Dec 28 2023 | By More

★★★★☆    A ball

The Brunton at Loretto School: Wed 20 – Sat 30 Dec 2023
Review by Martin Gray

Pared-down panto doesn’t mean squeezed entertainment as the Brunton Theatre’s annual family fun fest is staged at Loretto School this month.

The hideous weather didn’t deter the audience from turning out for Cinderella, it was a full house at this performance. The stage was full too, even though this production features only four actors.

Cinderella by Hopscotch Theatre, at the Brunton at Loretto School.

Sometimes four is fantastic on a wet winter night, with Hopscotch Theatre Company’s multi-tasking thespians providing theatrical sunshine by the bucketload. We’re in a burgh with similarities to Musselburgh – a Baynes, a Greggs, a golf course, men in frocks – but one where magic is real.

This is where Cinderella cooks and cleans for Ugly Sisters and would-be influencers Hackit and Glaickit – ‘fungal sensations’ – while her father explores the world like a Poundshop Indiana Jones.

He does put in a brief appearance to ensure Cinders can take up her invitation to Prince McCharming’s annual ball after his stepdaughters rip her ticket to shreds. Then he’s off again, to be replaced by a suspiciously familiar Prince McCharming.

great value

Actually, it’s not that suspicious, with Calum Barbour – last year’s Brunton Sinbad – upfront with the audience that he’s doubling up for sake of the budget. Well, if you can’t make fun of reduced circumstances in Cinderella, when can you?

Barbour is great value, switching smoothly from Paddy McGuinness soundalike Father to the Prince’s suitably Charming Scottish brogue. And like his cast mates he’s a ball of energy, bounding around the auditorium like a puppy on Smarties, wrangling the kids and adults with confidence.

Sandy Bain and Kit Laveri in Cinderella. The Brunton at Loretto School Theatre.

Also doubling up is Kit Laveri, half of the Ugly Sisters and occasional Fairy Godmother. It’s as the latter that she truly shines, exuding eccentricity as she ensure Cinders shall go to the ball by enlisting all the junior wizards present to yell out a spell.

Laveri is good in the less showy role of Glaickit, as the best lines and costumes go to Sandy Bain’s Hackit, a vision (of horror) in pink. Bellowing out his gags – it’s not ham, it’s a character thing – and relishing the boos and hisses, Bain near steals his scenes.

Nearly, but not quite – the ensemble members respect their colleagues’ talents and give each other room to shine. And that includes our personable Cinders, Rachel Still, a very modern miss whose big ambition isn’t to nab a handsome prince but to travel the world. Mind, if a handsome prince happens to come along who’s willing to visit far-off lands with her…

cheery banter

Still makes friends of the audience instantly with well delivered cheery banter so everyone is on side as she rushes towards her fateful appointment with enchanted trainers.

This is a panto without the usual tenuous collection of pop songs, instead Ross Stenhouse’s script comes with its own catchy, narratively useful tunes, all sold with vigour by the cast. Director Calum Moore’s lively production, with designs by Morven McLeod, is dedicated to Stenhouse, who died last year.

A pacy, perky production, this Cinderella is well worth a visit… even if you’ve been invited to a ball on the same night.

Running time: One hour and 30 minutes (including one interval).
The Brunton @ Loretto School, Millhill, Musselburgh.
Wed 20 – Sat 30 Dec 2023. (Loretto School Theatre).
Wed 20-Fri 22: 7pm; Sat 23: 2pm & 7pm; Sun 24: 1pm & 5pm.
Wed 27-Fri 29: 11am (not Thurs), 3pm, 7pm; Sat 30: 1pm & 5pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Cinderella by Hopscotch Theatre, at the Brunton at Loretto School.


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