TITLE: Cinderella – Huddersfield Light Opera Company
BY: Andrew Hirst
THE Christmas show at the LBT was Beauty And The Beast – but with a cast of just four and the age-old tale given something of a new arty twist it left some theatregoers thinking they’d been short-changed in pantoland.
So if you’re hankering after a traditional panto with plenty of ‘he’s behind you’ and sweet-chucking shenanigans then take the family to Huddersfield Light Opera Company's rendition of Cinderella.
The immense effort they’ve put into this show is plain to see from the sets – including a clever turnaround when Cinderella’s coach makes its twinkling appearance – to the costumes.
The Ugly Sisters appear to have selected their outrageous outfits from the Coco The Clown collection more than Stella McCartney as they ‘dazzle’ from the Caribbean fruit look to horse-riding ‘high hat’ goddesses.
There are the usual familiar faces among the cast and Chris Brearley embellishes damehood with a deluge of double entendres as he and partner in fashion crime Paul Bennett gives the Ugly Sisters some real gusto. Exactly as it should be.
Things never get weirder than when they try their four left feet at ballet with poor old ‘Rudolf Nureyev’ the target of their unwanted attention.
Buttons – dressed all in red so he comes across as a manic post box darting hither and thither – is played by Neil Broadbent who, let’s face it, could work professionally with ease. He can instantly build a rapport with the audience and then milks it with everything from his swift one liners, through his body language to just the right knowing look.
And there are two other sisters on the stage with Gemma Clarkson playing Cinderella – and probably the best singing performance – with Zoe Clarkson as her Prince Charming, complete with plenty of royal thigh-slapping.
Fairy Godmother Helen Woodhead turns in yet another accomplished performance while Granville Stead’s role as Baron Hardup unleashes his more comic side.
The dancers are with the Strickland Cook Theatre School and there are some great individual performances in there and just might turn some of the younger audience members’ minds to following in their footsteps.
Plenty of familiar songs too from Holding Out For A Hero and It’s Raining Men to Oh What A Night and Angels.
So about as traditional and audience-friendly as it gets from an amateur cast who relish their roles and the chance to put on a real old-fashioned panto.
What more can you want to beat the January blues?
Cinderella runs again at the LBT this week from Wednesday to Saturday. Shows start at 7.15pm apart from Saturday when the final two performances will be at 1.30pm and 5.30pm.