What comes round once a year? Why it’s the Hastings White Rock Theatre Christmas Pantomime of course. I went along to the second night of the run with the theatre jam-packed with mums and dads and excited children.
This year’s pantomime was Cinderella full of song and dance and of course the customary pantomime gags. Jessie Wallace (Eastenders star) is playing the role of Cinderella’s fairy Godmother, resplendent in her beautiful white sparkly gown and on each occasion she appeared on stage in the customary puff of smoke, she engaged with the audience in a sing-along session.
Then along comes the ugly sisters played by Katie Brennan and Suzie Chard who proceeded to tell children in the audience they were smelly and horrible. Both ugly sisters looked hilarious in their costumes and delivered some fantastic comedy. We all know the storyline where Cinderella is trying to get to the ball but the ugly sisters do everything in their power for that not to happen. Buttons, her friend, played by Ben Watson is falling in love with Cinderella (played by the elegant Daisy Steere) but Cinders knows that her true love is out there somewhere and so Buttons charm and persuasion fails to get through. It’s in the forest where Cinderella eventually meets her Prince Charming played by Benjamin McMillan and his man servant Dandini played by Dylan Brown when loves blossoms. Any pantomime is partly judged by its stage sets and the sets of Cinderella were truly superb. The show was peppered with many songs all beautifully performed by a well drilled cast. Oh, and look out for the gorillas!! Not only are they on stage, but you’ll find them in the stalls and circle - be there and see what it’s all about! What also made this production fun was the actors interacting with the audience so beware if you are sitting in the front row. Watch out too in you are in the stalls as during one scene you’ll have snow falling down from the ceiling, a wonderful touch which added to the magic. Mention should also be made to the band in the pit who played their part well in making the songs so special - including the thumping Eastenders intro! Jessie Wallace as the Fairy Godmother surprised us all by singing a few songs, not something that we normally associate with the soap drama star but she carried them off well. And let us not forget, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, to star in a show with a broken leg was very courageous and showed true commitment.
For me the star of the show was Ben Watson as Buttons who put on the performance of his life, he was simply outstanding. I find it incredible that all these wonderful actors can retain the enthusiasm, vigour and stamina to do two performances a day, simply incredible. At the end of the day this was a fun-filled magical pantomime full of song, music and laughs played to perfection by a great cast who kept the large White Rock Theatre entertained. It takes a lot of people to put on a show this good and the writer Simon Aylin and executive producer Daryl Back should be congratulated for making this show what it is, a great family show, and entertainment at its best. Don’t miss it.
Review by Malcolm Robinson.