The Lovelace Theatre are back with vengeance showing that no pandemic will stop their creativity. The rendition of the Cinderella pantomime tickled the audiences funny bones and had the children in the audience mesmerised by the fabulous costumes. Filled with a range of current hit songs to 60’s classics sang and danced in true am-dram style; the show was a cheesy blast at the well known story; what’s not to love!
After a difficult few years, the cast were excited to be back on stage bringing big smiles and energy throughout the show, though it must have been nerve wracking as most of the performers hadn’t trodden the boards, or even rehearsed treading the boards) in over a year. To come back from such a time off to produce another wonderful pantomime is a credit to the cast and creatives.
Jess Carter donned the rags as she embodied the title character of Cinders. A tremendous effort throughout the show, keeping the energy high, and the audience transfixed as she transformed into the beautiful princess with a light up dress. Cinderellas first song, a duet between her and Prince Charming played by Beth Garwood, was incredibly sung by the pair and even had harmonies - you don’t get that with most amateur pantos, the 2 leads can sing! Like Jess, Beth did an incredible job as Prince Charming and was able to captivate the audience and give an air of dominance and glamour. So spellbinding was she, that the audience barely notices the microphone cable swinging between her fish netted thighs.
The star of the show, without a doubt was Frankie Wright. This mini Mr Bean knows his comic timing to the second, his face and body move with such fluidity and obscurity that he would give Jim Carey a run for his money. Frankie played the part of Buttons and brought much needed light and comedy to the role. All the laughter and applause Frankie received were thanks to his hard work and dedication to the role as the orated jokes he had were not great, the script was not good enough for the actor in this regard. I simply cannot fault a thing this funny man did, he literally has funny bones. If I were to find a criticism, it would simply be that he was so great, so lovable that I felt sad that Cinderella didn’t fall in love with Buttons!
But amateur pantomime cannot exist without little moments that catch the audience off guard, during a solo balled by Cinderella the curtains closed slowly, however the set from the previous scene got snagged in the curtains and a gentleman with very jazzy shoes had to run on and solve the issue. I think there’s a reason we wear stage blacks backstage, to not distract the audiences attention in these circumstances.
The group made some very bold decisions in the show which made it stand out and unique. The best decision was to have Sunny Bradshaw sing and play guitar live during the royal ball. A simply spellbinding performance! The acoustic song was sung perfectly and had the audience captivated from start to finish, myself, and the children I was with looked on in admiration as the pipes of this budding star opened up and filled the room. One decision which made the atmosphere odd was the lack of music playing as the audience arrived and during the interval, the downside to this was the actors having to work that little but harder at the start of each act to get the audience focused and their energy pumping.
It is a personal preference, but I believe in a small venue such as the John Godber Centre, actors shouldn’t rely on individual microphones, as soon as amplified speech happened I could tick off another main character. Not something the fairy godmother Laura Short needed. Her performance was loud and proud, a proper Halifax rocker fairy with tattoos and a devil may care attitude, a very unique take on the Fairy but one that paid off as it had the audience in stitches. The local references of Holgate School and Damo’s Bar had the audience chuckling, but Lauras improvisation about using her powers for the Forest/Derby football match, was a stroke of genius.
Richard Alton and Jacob Hunt-Wheatley put on their glad rags to play the ugly sisters, the pair worked together and bounced off each other brilliantly. They complemented the evil step mother perfectly, played by Hatty. This trio got many boos through the show and some ironic wolf whistles too, they had the audience in the palm of their hand and the call and response was as you would expect from a pantomime. The great thing about this triad was they limited their improvisation with the audiences, something many ETC members could learn a thing or two from!
The group were let down again by the script, the energy was completely by these three lost during a joke section about ‘tramps’. The actors tried and slogged through their lines, but once again the script was not strong enough for the actors. The section refers to Prince Charming ‘going for a tramp’ meaning a walk. Which hasn’t been used as a verb for walking since the early 1900’s. The great covid-19 pandemic would have been entirely different if, during the lockdowns, our tramping was restricted.
Aside from the script, the set mishap and a couple of missed lines, the pantomime was an all round success and the cast and creatives should be very proud of putting on an ambitious show and having it pay off to such a wonderful smattering of applause at the end. Each actor deserves high praise for their contributions, and once again Lovelace Theatre Group have Bec Mayes to thank for pulling it all together in such a wonderfully camp way - this is why the audiences keep coming back for more. It leaves me excited to see what they do with Grease the Musical in May!
Performed at the John Godber Centre
Thursday 20th - Sunday 23rd of January 2022. Tickets £7