I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
A laugh a minute as panto returns to the Lichfield stage
The entire cast of this fabulous pantomime can definitely go "to the ball" after a spectacular show that delighted young and not so young at the Lichfield Garrick theatre in Staffordshire. Packed with loads of humour, fantastic costumes, lovely songs and impressive special effects, Cinderella easily maintains the Garrick's record of top quality festive pantos. The wonderful surprises began almost immediately, with leading TV celebrity Paul O'Grady appearing on a large screen above the stage to 'chat' to the Fairy Godmother, delightfully played by CBeebies presenter Rebecca Keatley, who reprised her role as the lady with the wand. Another surprise soon followed, with regular funny-man and Lichfield legend Sam Rabone dropping the dresses from his previous roles as the Dame to take on the mantle of Buttons.
The cast of Cinderella. Credit Pamela Raith Photography
The switch does not prevent Sam from earning his regular bundle of laughs, although he will be back in familiar female attire as the Dame in next year's production of Peter Pan. However Sam is given a good run for his money in the laughter stakes by the hilarious Ugly Sisters, Donaldina and Melania Hardup, excellently played by James Mitchell and George Akid, while Herbie Adams also impresses as Prince Charming's valet, Dandini. In particular, Sam (Buttons) and Herbie (Dandini) link up to superb effect in an hilarious send-up of Strictly Come Dancing hosts Claudia and Tess. Other clever and funny routines include a slick word-play conversation using the names of board games. Some jokes are clearly intended for the parents and grandparents in the audience, such as references to a bath bomb and the rock band Queen, including one or two which probably shouldn't be explained to their children.
Beccy Lane is a delight as Cinderella. Credit Pamela Raith Photography
Cinderella is splendidly written by Paul Hendy, and has been masterfully staged thanks to the combined talents of director Sam Rabone, producer Emily Wood and choreographer Simon Barnum. Beccy Lane is a thoroughly charming Cinderella, as is Dominic Griffin as the dashing Prince who changes places with his valet in order to try to find someone who loves him for himself. This modern take on the traditional panto also sees a marvellous cameo from eight-year-old Mildred, who delivers a #MeToo message to the boys in the cast, which also features George Telfer as the hard up Baron. Another surprise 'star' of the night comes with the show-stopping transformation of the pumpkin and mouse into a coach and horse - but you'll have to see that for yourself!
The Ugly Sisters take centre-stage with, from left, Buttons, the Baron, Prince Charming and Dandini. Credit Pamela Raith,