Cinderella

November 30, 2019 | By | Reply More

★★★★☆  Oh yes it is…. Terrific!

The Brunton, Musselburgh: 26 Nov 2019 – 4 Jan 2020
Review by Martin Gray

It’s Cinderella with a touch of The Greatest Showman at this year’s fun-filled Brunton-produced panto, running through the festive season until January.

Cinderella’s dream isn’t to go to the ball. It’s to run the circus that’s been in her family for generations. Unfortunately, her wicked stepmother has taken over after feeding Cinders’ dead dad to the lions.

Eilidh Weir (Cinderella). Pic: The Brunton

So, not quite the usual rags to riches Cinderella story, then, in John Bennie’s latest panto offering – but the basics are there.

As well as the downtrodden good girl and her rotten stepmum we have two very ugly sisters, a fairy godmother, a handsome prince and, of course, loyal pal Buttons. And the tweaks work remarkably well, with Eilidh Weir’s sassy Cinders sweet, but never saccharine, as the gal who wants nothing more than to introduce the family show on Musselburgh Links.

She’s an appealing heroine, well matched by her sidesmen, Buttons the clown (Ross Donnachie) and Prince Charlie (Lewis Lauder), who swap roles in a nice piece of Prince and the Pauper business. But it’s a case of never the Twain, as Buttons – like so many before him – realises that being a royal isn’t all roses and rainbows. What he really wants is to escape the friend zone to which Cinders has confined him.

shines

Donnachie does a terrific job of getting the kids on side, quickly establishing a ‘Hiya Buttons, honk honk’ response every time he turns up on stage. And Lauder shines as he struts around the audience, looking for that one girl with the perfect feet for the single slipper left behind after the Tantallon Castle ball (the wicked stepmother dismisses him as a foot fetishist…).

Graham Crammond (Mince), Wendy Seager (Stepmother) & Andrew Dyer (Tatties). Pic: The Brunton

Grotesquely desperate to fit into the shoes are Ugly Sisters Mince and Tatties, introduced as conjoined twins, which would have been a very interesting take, but that joke’s quickly cast aside.

Happily, the daffy Dames – Graham Crammond and Andrew Dyer – give us several dozen more, and probably as many hilarious impromptu lines and physical gags. They’re a brilliant combination, their comedic chemistry all the more surprising given it’s a decade since they’ve appeared together on stage.

Fionnuala Fairy (Estrid Barton) is invisible to most of the players for the majority of her stage time, but happily we never lose sight of this warm, welcoming witch wench in full-on Glenda gown. Her sister, the rancid Ringmistress, is marvellously boo-able as she torments Cinders in a family friendly way.

audience participation

There’s plenty of audience participation, from the old chase around the auditorium to some cute business with a test your strength machine that gets a couple of kiddies and a game dad up on stage. And of course, there’s the double speed super-sized songsheet singalong.

Eilidh Weir (Cinderella) & Lewis Lauder (Prince Charlie). Pic: The Brunton

Binnie’s direction is on point, with everyone just where they need to be at all times to best deliver their lines or songs – which included the buoyant Reach For the Stars, a bright Don’t Stop Believing and a Be a Clown repurposed for maximum narrative poignancy. There’s an enviable sense of teamwork among the players, which includes the energetic chorus kids wrangled by choreographer Rhian Monro, who proved especially valuable in a scene featuring Seventies pop classic Tiger Feet that’s neat.

As well as overseeing music for the songs, Tommie Travers adds mood and depth to scenes with smart incidental music, while the lighting of Ian Curtis and Craig Dixon also helps the story rattle along, highlighting, for example, the casting of spells and ending of invisibility.

Robin Mitchell does double duty on sets and costume, giving the production a singular visual sensibility; outfits are clever circus twists on the traditional looks, or tacky-fabulous, while sets are bright and beautiful.

empowering

Cinderella’s final message, with hero and heroine deeply in love and business partners, is empowering but delivered with a light touch, meaning it’s still romantic and not too worthy.

The Brunton pantomime never disappoints, and this year’s is especially strong, with a fabulous script, superbly produced. It’s one of the funniest, most complete pantos around – like Cinderella, I had a ball.

Running time: Two hours and ten minutes (including interval)
The Brunton, Ladywell Way, Musselburgh EH21 6AA. Phone booking: 0131 665 2240
Tue 26 Nov 2019 – Sat 4 Jan 2020
Various times.
Mon – Thurs: 10am & 1.45pm; Fri: 10am & 7pm; Sat: 2pm & 7pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Estrid Barton (Fionnuala Fairy). Pic: The Brunton

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