PUBLISHED: 19:14 06 December 2018
Mike Kwasniak Photography, 2018 – www.mikekwasniak.co.uk
What did our arts editor make of the New Wolsey’s 2018/19 panto Cinderella?
The Christmas season hasn’t really arrived until the New Wolsey’s rock’n’roll pantomime has taken the dust sheets off its drum kit and Buttons has hit the first power chord of the year.
The New Wolsey knows its audience and this year’s reinvention of Cinderella, the first rock’n’roll panto performed at the New Wolsey way back in 2002, certainly has plenty of sparkle and a songbook of bona fide hits which not only have instant audience recognition but help drive the emotional narrative as well.
Among the tracks given that superior New Wolsey sound this year are: In The Midnight Hour, Downtown, It’s Raining Men, Try A Little Tenderness, Reet Petite and Jesse J’s PriceTag.
Actor-musician performances has long been a New Wolsey speciality and, as a result, they have developed a tremendously talented group of performers from which to cast their shows. Not only can they act but they can play two or three instruments as well.
This year’s show is crammed with familiar faces and even newcomers such as Chris Vince, playing Prince Charming, are well known to local audiences having come up through the New Wolsey Youth Theatre.
This year we not only get two Dames in the form of Ugly Sisters Hernia and Verruca, vividly brought to life by New Wolsey regulars Sean Kingsley and Adam Langstaff, but we also encounter their money grasping mother Rubella De Zees, played with real zeal by Susannah van den Berg, who seized every opportunity to turn the crowd against her.
In this Cinderella, it is Baron Hardup (the versatile Steve Simmonds) who takes on the audience interaction role, has the largest supply of groan-inducing jokes and gets to read out the birthdays and hellos.
In a large cast it is difficult to mention everyone but Chris Vince makes an impressive debut as Prince Charming, Daniella Piper is engaging as Cinderella and Lucy Wells is a multi-talented, youthful fairy godmother. Buttons is curiously played as a Pinocchio substitute with a heavily made up face, red cheeks and a high pitched voice which lowers when he sings. It’s not a characterisation that works but, happily, this is the only creative mis-step in an otherwise hugely entertaining evening.