Fri 10th December - Sun 12th December & Wed 15th December - Sun 19th December 2010
Directed by Pete Woodward
In a time long ago, in a land far away, a young girl called Cinderella finds herself at the mercy of a wicked stepmother and two evil, ugly sisters. Discovering that they plan to use magic to enslave the Prince, Cinders, her best friend Buttons and her mysterious, and slightly mad, Fairy Godmother must gatecrash the ball and save the Kingdom.
An exciting adventure for all the family, Bench Theatre brings this classic to life with an all new script. Magic, adventure and the wonder of Christmas make this the perfect family treat this winter.
Cinderella is a well-known classic folk tale of a young woman who is victimised and despised by the daughters of her father's second wife.
One of the most popular versions of Cinderella was written by Charles Perrault in 1697. The popularity of his tale was due to his additions to the story including the pumpkin, the fairy-godmother and the introduction of glass slippers. It was widely believed that in Perrault's version, Cinderella wore fur boots ("pantoufle en vair"), and that when the story was translated into English, vair was mistaken for verre (glass), resulting in glass slippers and that the story has remained this way ever since. Another well-known version was recorded by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 19th century. In this version, the stepsisters try to trick the prince by cutting off parts of their feet in order to get the slipper to fit. The prince is alerted by two pigeons who peck out the stepsisters' eyes, thus sealing their fate as blind beggars for the rest of their lives.
This version, 'Cinderella: A Christmas Adventure!' has all the traditional elements of the modern Cinderella story; the wicked Step-mother, the Ugly Sisters, Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother, the glass slipper, the ball, the spell fading at mid-night, but also includes some surprises including a twist on the character traits and a strong adventure theme. As with many pantomimes, boys play girls, girls play boys, the audience are encouraged to shout out ("It's behind you" and "Oh, no it isn't! Oh, yes it is") and there are jokes for all ages.
This play was staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. In the 2010 Daily Echo 'Curtain Call' awards, the production was nominated as Best Pantomime, David Penrose was nominated for Best Set & Props and Megan Green was nominated for Best Performance in a Pantomime.
This radio ad was produced by Sarah Parnell and features members of the cast. Here, Megan Green is interviewed on Express FM by Peter Clarke on the 29th November edition of 'Playtime' and here, Megan & Thomas Hall speak to Katie Martin on the 1st Dec edition of her BBC Radio Solent show.
|Blunt (co-narrator)||Dan Finch|
|Billio (co-narrator)||Mark Wakeman|
|Buttons - her friend||Andy McDougall|
|Herman - her father||Jeff Bone|
|Impressia - her stepmother||Megan Green|
|Griselda (Ugly Sister)||Terry Smyth|
|Imelda (Ugly Sister)||Callum West|
|Gerald (Prince Charming)||Julie Wood|
|The King||David Penrose|
|The Queen||Sharon Morris|
|Fairy Godmother||Lorraine Galliers|
|Fairy Malcolm||Paul Millington|
|Princess Sasha||Ruth Prior|
|Princess Beryl||Claire Lyne|
|Princess Marigold||Beth Evans|
|Cats||Beth Evans |
|Gop Swan||Melanie Cole|
|Andy||Richard Le Moignan|
|Priest||Richard Le Moignan|
|Assassins||Hilary Davis |
|Pantomime Horses||Thomas Hall |
Richard Le Moignan
|Market Stall-holders||Melanie Cole |
|Townspeople||Fern Bicheno |
|Guests at the Ball||Fern Bicheno |
Richard Le Moignan
|Monsters||Hilary Davis |
|Massed Armies of the Civil War||Hilary Davis |
Richard Le Moignan
|Personal Assistant to the Director||Sally Hartley|
|Stage Manager||Robin Hall assisted by |
members of the cast
|Lighting Design||Phil Hanley|
|Lighting Operation||Jacquie Penrose|
|Sound Design||Sarah Parnell|
|Sound Operation||Ingrid Corrigan|
|Costumes||Sue Dawes assisted by|
|Set Design||David Penrose|
|Set Construction||David Penrose |
|Properties||Thomas Hall |
Richard Le Moignan
|Make-up Consultant||Samantha Mason|
|Publicity||Gina Farmer assisted by |
and members of Bench Theatre
|Programme Editor||Derek Callam|
|Front of House||Sally Hartley|
How I came to be what I laughingly call "The Director" of this show, still remains a mystery to me. It appears that sometime ago, probably having taken a small sherry, I was swept up by Mark Wakeman's enthusiasm and cheerful optimism and found myself agreeing to lend a hand with Cinderella. Since then, only the magnificent support of all members of the Bench, especially the actors, designers, costumiers, stage management, sound and light crew (the list is endless), has prevented me being led away by a team of highly trained carers.
So, to ALL the company, heartfelt thanks... this truly is a show to which the overused phrase 'teamwork' really does apply. And, more importantly, a huge thank you to you, THE AUDIENCE, for being here today. We hope you enjoy Cinderella.
The idea of doing a panto has been floating around the Bench for some time. It was mentioned back when we chose to do Wind in the Willows for our last Christmas show, but nothing came of it then. When discussions began last year to find a suitable Christmas show for 2010, I decided to put pantomime forward again. I had no real idea of which panto we should do or what it would entail. My thoughts were for some devised piece with the company working on scenes and then myself scripting from what they worked with. However when it came to pitching the idea, the company asked for an example of what it might look like, so I wrote two scenes of a prospective panto. Cinderella just seemed the easiest to choose for the example, so I basically wrote the market scene and the first kitchen scene that you will see tonight. The company liked what I had written and voted the piece through.
I'd already approached Pete Woodward to see if he would direct as he'd expressed an interest before - and he agreed. Circumstances meant that my initial devised idea would prove unworkable so in the end Pete just told me to sit down and write Cinderella, stick in everything I could think of and we'll sort it out in rehearsals later. So I did!
Having decided on Cinderella I wanted to include everything that an audience would expect, but I also wanted to give them some stuff they hadn't seen before. So this production has everything you might want: it has Cinderella, the wicked Step-mother, the Ugly Sisters, Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother, the glass slipper, the ball, the spell fading at mid-night... all of that classic stuff. But hopefully there will be some surprises as I quite fancied making the story a bit of an adventure. I also wanted to make it as traditionally pantomime as I could, so boys play girls, girls play boys, the audience are encouraged to shout out and there are jokes for all ages.
There is some traditional panto stuff that we've had to leave out as well, not least the singing and dancing. Initially I did want some songs and even wrote the lyrics to a couple of silly spoof musical songs. However, my enthusiasm waned during rehearsals for The Crucible where our lovely director had a brilliant idea for the cast to sing a song at the end. But listening to said cast, they become a tuneless cat-stranglers glee club every time they attempted it! (People have often asked us why the Bench doesn't do more shows with singing and dancing in it... anyone who saw those Crucible rehearsals has their answer... we don't do singing!) It was a monumental effort to get the dancing in for the ball scene, Busby Berkeley routines were therefore off the table entirely.
The initial draft was about an hour longer than the show you are seeing tonight and there are some lovely gags that I have been forced (at gunpoint) to let go. (Anyone who knows me knows this is akin to someone chopping my leg off.) However, the devising that I originally intended is coming through in the rehearsals now as we mould the script to the actors and resources we have available. A lot of people have spent a great number of hours working on every aspect of the production and it's been humbling to see so many people commit themselves to work on a project which, remember at the start, didn't even have a complete script. I hope they and you feel it was worthwhile by the end of the evening.
You've got to have a market place and a kitchen and a ballroom and a coach and a clock and a pumpkin or it wouldn't be 'Cinderella'. And all that has got to happen in quick-fire order in a space with no wings, no fly tower and no trapdoors.
Luckily our esteemed author knows this space as well as I do and at least eased off on the transformation scene, making it just about possible to pull off the pumpkin and coach business without knocking a wall down. But then he added two other locations that aren't in everybody else's version at all. Writers! Like Peter Shaffer in 'The Royal Hunt of the Sun' they can casually write "... they cross the Andes..." and let the designer and the director have the sleepless nights.
Having designed the set for 'The Wind in the Willows' two years ago, I started with the premise that whatever we do has to be simple, with as little as possible pushed and pulled on and off the stage. So - four principal locations and a rapid back and forth between them - with as much as we could manage on stage all the time. How do we do that? You'll see three vertical triangles doing most of the work, lovingly nicknamed the Toblerones by the crew - when they aren't calling them a lot of other things. It's a trick with a long history, going right back to the eighteenth century when spectacle was first expected in the theatre. Shakespeare used no scenery - wise man.
But four scenes and three sides on a triangle. Complicated stuff about geometry mean that the trick would not work with squares. Think about it when you see it. They'd just get stuck, wouldn't they? So one scene has to be done with light-weight flats and lugged on and off. Heigh-ho! Why couldn't the architects of Havant's Victorian Town Hall have had the vision to know that in their beautiful new council chamber sometime in the future would have to get Cinderella to the ball?
This production was full of dynamic and entertaining characters: a lively, feisty, excitable Cinderella (Flic Jolly), mesmerizingly-wicked stepmother (Megan Green), charismatically charming Prince (Julie Wood), marvellously garish Ugly Sisters (Terry Smyth, Callum West), majestic Queen (Sharon Morris) and engaging narrators holding it all together (Dan Finch, Mark Wakeman).
Wakeman's original script was faithful to the original, but also successfully included delightful, new characters, not least the wonderfully funny Ruth Prior as an octogenarian suitor, Princess Sasha!
It didn't matter that there were no songs or dance routines, although at times the actors needed to be careful not to talk under the enthusiastic audience's vocal reactions. With a pantomime acted this well, directed at an excellent pace and with fabulously painted, clever storybook scenery, exuberant costumes and a cast clearly having a ball, this was an afternoon of magical entertainment for all the family.
The Southern Daily Echo, 14th December 2010
Let's make one thing clear. I hate panto - with a vengeance, but I liked this panto very much. Mark Wakeman says he's written 'an original telling of an old classic' - but what he's done is, very cleverly, to take panto back to its roots and, knowing The Bench's strengths and weaknesses, he's played very much to their strengths. This Cinderella is not propped up with pointless songs but by a familiar story, family-friendly humour, a fantastic set and some good performances.
Wakeman and Dan Finch make friendly hosts and are well-supported on all sides. Flic Jolly's Cinderella is an attractive, hyperactive whirlwind. Megan Green is nicely evil as the stepmother and Terry Smyth and Callum West are very impressive as the Ugly Sisters. Another personal favourite was Claire Lyne's kung-fu fighting Princess Beryl. Until 19 December.
The News, 13th December 2010
Bench Theatre group have scored another winner with their family show of magic and wonder - 'Cinderella'. Written by their very own prolific playwright/actor/director Mark Wakeman, the script includes not just the traditional elements of the classic tale but also a host of new characters that successfully give an original twist.
Using two narrators and a cast just short of two dozen, Cinderella and lovesick Buttons must save the kingdom from the wicked stepmother. Cinders, cast aside by her weak father and dealt a life of drudgery by her brutal stepmother and her two ugly daughters, gatecrashes the Palace Ball with the assistance of her Fairy Godmother, but on the stroke of midnight Cinders hastily leaves before her transformation is reversed! Leaving behind her glass slipper the Prince vows to travel the land in search of his new love, but will he succeed in escaping from the magic potion procured by the wicked stepmother...?
This accomplished group can be guaranteed to produce a first class show and this is no exception. With an imaginative and artistic backstage crew, vivid and beautifully painted colourful backdrops, depict both the Baron's kitchen and Palace ballroom, cleverly converting to a street scene and cursed forest! Stunning costumes, extravagant make-up, inspired horses, an ingenious pumpkin coach and creative lighting effects all add to this kaleidoscope of characters.
Particular mention for Mark Wakeman (one of the narrators) for not only producing the script but also bringing special magic to his gifted storytelling, and ex professional actress Megan Green (Impressia) gives a convincing characterisation of the scheming stepmother. Strong supporting roles by Andy McDougall's assured portrayal of the engaging character Buttons, and Lorraine Galliers as the Fairy Godmother. Bench newcomer Flic Jolly (Cinderella) excels throughout in the lead role while Ugly Sister Imelda was brilliantly represented by Callum West.
A brilliant and exhilarating evening - highly recommended. This is a slick, colourful and visually inventive family comedy.
remotegoat, 13th December 2010
I love Bench theatre. Their dedication to produce plays most non-professionals wouldn't tackle, and at the highest possible standard, gave me the opportunity to see plays ranging from Shakespeare to Sarah Kane on my doorstep while I was still studying for my GCSEs. I have seen productions there which have far excelled some I have seen on the West End. They are essentially in my opinion, the reason to visit Havant.
So when I heard they were producing a pantomime, I knew it would be a good night out, and naturally dragged a couple of car loads of my friends down from Croydon for the weekend.
Firstly, Mark Wakeman has written a really excellent script which offers just the right mix of a traditional story with modern references. There were plenty of jokes for the grown-ups but lots of 'he's behind you' stuff for the kids. It also didn't go too smutty or contain lots of in jokes for the locals, referencing pop culture and TV instead which made it very relevant. We particularly liked the way the story followed the familiar tale of Cinderella but veered off after the ball to give us extra plot and characters.
The ugly sisters, played by Terry Smyth and Callum West, were hilarious, and a particular favourite among my friends, one of whom insisted on getting a photograph with them afterwards (above). Dan Finch and Mark Wakeman really set the scene as the story tellers, keeping the story moving and the audience laughing. I also thought Flic Jolly had a great pantomime style as Cinderella as did Lorraine Galliers as the fairy godmother.
What really made the pantomime magical was the contagious energy of the cast and the truly spectacular set and costumes. The beautiful hand-painted sets were so lovely I wanted to take them home for my own house. Now OK I'm a bit biased about the costume because my mum led the team of talented people behind them, but I think anyone who sees this production will agree they are truly amazing. From the bespoke patterned tailcoats which looked straight out of a Vivienne Westwood collection to the adorable horses, they were a joy to look at. Each character had different costumes for the ball and many had more than two or even three different outfits making this a real feat.
I think what I love most about this panto is that it gives local parents the opportunity to take their kids to a Christmas show they will all love without breaking the bank. No need for fireworks or past-it celebrities, take the kids to this and you will make their Christmas.
Oh and it goes without saying, the turkey in scene one was totally awesome.
52 Plays, 14th December 2010
Tonight I was invited to attend the pantomime 'Cinderella' performed by The Bench Theatre at The Spring Havant. The whole show was really funny, like any good pantomime the audience were shouting at the cast "O Yes He Is", there were a group of cubs in the audience and they were out of their seats with excitement. A really good show and extremely funny.
Mayor of Havant, 16th December 2010