A little boy in the row beside me repeatedly shouted out “The ghost is in your bed” which upstaged the Ugly Sisters and proved what a magical experience panto can be.
He brought the house down on a night of good, clean slapstick and jokes, modern songs and dances from an award-winning company.
Seven times champions of the best panto in the district, Bolsover Drama Group is sharing the best-loved story of them all this week at the town’s Assembly Rooms.
Cinderella is a most magical creation and this production shows that a vivid imagination goes a long way in compensating for the absence of lavish special effects.
The tricky transformation from girl in rags to princess in ballgown is done amid an ultraviolet scene in which a pumpkin is turned into a coach.
Cinders already has a horse stabled at her family home, Hardship Hall. Dancing may not be her mount’s forte but the ungainly equine generates lots of laughs thanks to the horse power provided by Keyleigh Constable and Tara Foster.
Cinderella is played by Leanne Holloway who grows in confidence as the show progresses with her performance mirroring that of her character’s transformation into Princess Stardust.
Michelle Shaw works her magic in the role of Fairy Godmother to ensure that Cinders becomes the belle of the ball and captures the heart of Prince Charming.
Lyndsey Ashley is every inch the dashing Prince aided and abetted by Glenn Turner who camps it up in the role of Dandini.
Dale Shaw is a panto natural who makes a wonderful Buttons. He seizes every opportunity to connect with the audience, beginning with a long-winded, forgettable catchphrase to protect his gift for Cinderella from falling into the wrong hands.
But it’s the Ugly Sisters who steal the show. Chris Peck and Paul Holland milk the roles of Gertrude and Grizelda for all their worth especially in a boudoir scene where there’s a ghost in the closet and a spider in their bed.
Louise Sutton and Julie Clifford make another delightful comic pairing as the workmen Bodgett and Leggett who ponder the future of Hardship Hall and whether it will be replaced with a hotel. This gives rise to a wry dig at Bolsover District Council passing a plan for a Morrisons supermarket in the town.
Donna Knowles as the strident baroness and Derrick Hulett as her husband and impoverished baron add to the comedy element.
An hilarious Bake Off take-off scene are among the highlights of a panto which is peppered with references to The Apprentice
There’s plenty of songs to entertain the audience, with Pat Sabin adding live percussion to the recorded soundtrack. The company’s musical director Nigel Turner is currently out of action after breaking his leg just a few days before the launch of the show.
Time will tell whether this production, directed by Leanne Collins and Mick Whitehouse, will earn Bolsover Drama Group its eighth award for best panto from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.
But if success is judged on audience reaction, then the company better make space for another trophy in their cabinet.
Cinderella continues its run at the Assembly Rooms until Saturday, January 28.