Belly laughs, dazzling dancing, audience participation and a little bit of chaos, Southwick Players deliver everything you could want from a panto.
Cinderella opened yesterday at the Barn Theatre in Southwick with both a matinee and an evening performance.
It is great to see so many people involved, including two teams of young dancers, who are just delightful.
From the minute Buttons, played by Dave Eccleshall, powers out Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now to open the show, you know you are going to be having a good time.
There are a lot of laughs, a fair bit of traditional panto banter and plenty for the audience to get involved with.
And there are plenty of great performances but Phoebe Cook as Dandini stands out a mile for her full-on enthusiasm from start to finish. Boy, must her leg hurt from slapping her thigh so heartily!
Ian Bishop and H Reeves are a great double act as Asphyxia and Euthanasia, the ugly sisters, from their bickering to their outlandish performance of Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like A Woman.
And Baron and Baroness Hardupp are another great double act, too. It is great to see Frank Horsley back on stage as the bumbling Baron and Liz Gibson is brilliant alongside him, with the accompaniment of The Imperial March, Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars, leaving us in no doubt she is the baddie.
Poppy Hall, in contrast, is soft and gentle, just as Cinderella should be.
Having Bruno the dog as her special friend was a good way to bring the award-winning puppet from Goodnight Mr Tom back to the stage and Bonny Hazelwood was a great puppeteer, interacting well with the audience, but I felt even more could have been made of it.
There are some great dance routines, which give the young children quite a lot to do at times – and they are so cute.
The only downside last night was the sound. The general consensus seemed to be that something had gone wrong, as what was happening behind scenes was too often louder than the main action and that was shame, because you could not fault the performances.
There is plenty for all the family to enjoy in Cinderella, which runs at the Barn Theatre until Saturday, January 5. Visit southwickplayers.org.uk for full details.