Reviewed by Trish Francis
2016 marks the 30th Anniversary of Hills Youth Theatre productions and Cinderella is the pantomime they have chosen for the occasion as it was also the first pantomime performed by the group all those years ago.
Ben Crocker’s script, adapted by Judy Sampson and Peter Collins, follows the traditional rags to riches tale with music, dance, gender crossing actors, slapstick comedy and audience participation.
In this production we have female ugly sisters, Cheryl and Beryl played splendidly by Zoe Hilton, and Serenna Williams. Their characterisation engendered a reluctant affection from the audience who couldn’t fail to be captivated by their every scene. We loved to hate them!! Their musical numbers, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and Grace Kelly were highlights of the evening.
The gender swapping was left for Fairy Godmother Riordan Miller-Frost, a crowd favourite who coped well with the sometimes difficult rhyming verses and Buttons played by Jean Collins. Jean was most effective at breaking down the fourth wall and encouraging audience participation with great results.
Carina Crowhurst’s excellent acting made her a perfect Cinderella, although she lacked confidence in her solo song, as did Ben Kreig, an otherwise eminently believable Prince Charming. Both had adequate voices but would do well to first convince themselves of their ability in order to convince the audience. Ben particularly needs to smile more and worry less!
There were many good supporting actors, particularly Madeline Shields as Lady Devilia Hardup and Matilda Butler and Zoe Muller as Snitch and Snatch. Eloise Cobby-Smith as Princess Pimrose was delightfully natural in her performance. I must also mention the fabulous trio of Claire Gosser, Jaymee Huppatz and Charlotte Sarre in their sassy portrayal of Lilith, Lana and Lucia! Well done girls for making me laugh out loud. A good example of a relatively small role having real impact.
Director Judy Sampson has ensured every young person has their moment to shine. Ability is as varied as the ages of those involved but all give it their best shot. Costumes are stunning, lighting excellent and I am sure the few minor sound issues will be resolved as the season progresses.
Fabulous school holiday fun for young and old alike.