TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess
Panto returns to the South Holland Centre this week as Polka Dot Pantomimes brings the magic of Cinderella to Spalding.
Being the amdram luvvie that I am, I can’t resist a panto: the whole crossdressing, thigh-slapping shebang.
I starred in my first ever panto in Sixth Form, playing a very Godfather-influenced baddie, Abanazar, complete with my dad’s dinner suit, a Fedora and a moustache while singing Joe Dolce’s ‘Shaddap You Face’ as my solo.
After that auspicious start, I took to the stage during university, playing the more glamorous role of the Prince in Snow White, a part much more to my liking as I loved the kinky boots. The boots were walking again when I reprised my Prince role in the John Lewis Peterborough panto, duetting with the Wicked Queen in an unusual rendition of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’.
With these credentials I felt sufficiently equipped to go along to the Cinderella rehearsals last week to see what Spalding audiences have in store.
Cameron Hall, the choreographer, was already putting the professional dancers through their paces. There was some impressive footwork to be seen and a couple of eye-popping lifts that Len Goodman would probably count as illegal. And it was great to see former Polka Dot student Casey Connolly return home from theatre school to perform in her first professional pantomime.
In another room, director Kate Eason was blocking the second act (did you notice my use of the word ‘blocking’ gosh I’ve so got the lingo). Even dressed in civvies, the talented actors just oozed professionalism, with lines learned and characters nailed on Day Two of an intense rehearsal period. Kate’s job was harder than most as she also plays the part of young apprentice Fairy Flustered.
I can happily vouch for the fact that all the actors I saw were simply perfect for their roles. Prince Charming is rather dashing and, in this panto, very male while Cinders is blonde and beautiful with a wonderful singing voice.
I had a quick chat with the Ugly Sisters, good friends Andy Brennan and Chris Carr, and I think Polka Dot is onto a winner with this double act. They have worked together before so there is a natural bond which makes the comedy spontaneous and infectious. They pointed to a vast pile of brightly-coloured tulle in the corner of the room. “Our costumes,” Andy explained. “We’re going subtle this year”.
The principals are rehearsing 11 hour days at the moment and are joined in the evenings by the local children from Limelight Youth Theatre who form the ensemble.
I am sure the youngsters will find it an invaluable experience being part of a professional production and learning firsthand about the craft of performing arts.
The show opens this week and, from the sneaky peek I had last Tuesday, I’m sure theatregoers are in for a treat. Tickets are available from the South Holland Centre Box Office: 01775 764777.
You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.blogspot.com