REVIEW: You’re on the ball if you’re going to the ball with Cinderella at the Octagon Theatre
PANTOMIME magic is oozing from the very foundations of the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil once again as the festive treat of traditional panto fun and hilarity starts to spin its all-encompassing smile.
The award-winning Octagon is a very special theatre for all 12 months of the year, but it takes on an extra heart-warming glow over the Christmas period when the panto team arrives in town.
And audiences to this year’s production of Cinderella are in for a treat – make no mistake, it really is a classic pantomime, arguably one of the best to have ever been staged at the Octagon.
We won’t be giving anything away to spoil it for future audiences over the run of Cinderella which opened on Friday (December 8, 2017) and continues at the Octagon until Sunday, January 7, 2018, although it has to be said that most people already know the general synopsis of the much-loved story of Cinderella.
The panto – brought to the Octagon once again by the amazing Evolution Pantomimes – has got everything you would normally associate with panto …. the corny jokes, the slapstick humour, outrageous costumes, fun, mayhem, jollity, dancing, singing, goodies and baddies, boos and hisses. O yes it has!
One of the great things about the panto at the Octagon each year is that it has tended to stay away from having a well-known “celebrity” in the cast and gone for more of a team cast with a few regulars who have become firm favourites with the audiences.
So it means that instead of the panto being all about a well-known “celebrity”; it means the close-knit cast can ensure that it is all about the panto.
And the Cinderella panto for 2017-18 at the Octagon Theatre is very much all about the panto and the cast help to make it a wonderful couple of hours of pure joyous entertainment.
The cast is very strong with Jack Glanville, now in panto at the Octagon for a third successive year, the funny guy lynchpin of the production as Buttons.
While Lizzie Frances, at the Octagon in her fifth pantomime, produces another wonderful performance as the Fairy Godmother.
And then you have a real local link with Crewkerne-born Thomas Ford, who was once a regular with Yeovil Amateur Operatic Society and Yeovil Youth Theatre, putting in a fabulously comical depiction of Dandini.
But, if you have to pick “stars of the show” and it is difficult when the cast is so good with so many good performances, purely from the opinion of this scribe’s eyes, it would have to be Matt Daines, who is also the panto director, and Ian Smith as the Ugly Sisters named Beatrice and Eugenie.
The traditional panto dames are larger-than-life with even larger knickers and chests and are brilliantly funny and although they are on the receiving end of the boos and the jeers they really are loved by the audience….especially on the Saturday (December 9, 2017) night show by audience member Jamie who became their “love interest” during the performance!
Then you have Mark Faith as Baron Hardup who adds some customary bumbling nonsense to proceedings which centres round the blossoming romance between Cinderella, played beautifully by Joanna Sawyer, and Prince Charming, played by the accomplished Ashley Emerson, who has enjoyed some success in previous years in Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor.
Laughter is the key to pantomime and one of the key ingredients as to why the Octagon’s festive feast of fun will be such a success is that the cringe-worthy jokes, some of which are actually very funny, the witty one-liners, which are also well worth remembering, and the visual comedy, which needs to be seen rather than read about here, is shared around the cast rather than concentrating on one or two individual characters.
All of the cast get in on the act of making the audience smile from ear to ear and laugh out loud – even the talented group of six all-dancing courtiers.
It is often the way that the dancers are just there to dance and to, possibly, make up the numbers for the show. But they really do play their part in this pantomime and add to the laughter.
And, also, we should not forget the young juvenile dancers, who were selected locally, who will have the time of their lives on stage over the panto run which will prove to be an experience-of-a-lifetime.
The costumes are great, the music is fab and the scenery is superb.
It is difficult to find anything negative to say about the panto. It truly is magical.
If you have not got your tickets yet for the panto – go to the Octagon’s website at www.octagon-theatre.co.uk or phone the box office on 01935-422884.
Congratulations to Adam Burgan and Co at the Octagon Theatre and Paul Hendy and Emily Wood and everyone involved in the panto from Evolution Pantomimes – it is definitely a smash hit in my eyes.
And audiences will love the amazing "showstopper" moment at the end of the first-half of the show - but we don't want to give anything away about that!
REVIEW: Steve Sowden.
PHOTOS: Courtesy of the Octagon Theatre, Yeovil.