‘Cinderella’ was a perfect fit for the welcoming and cosy atmosphere of the Oldham Coliseum. Clearly a family friendly venue, the audience was filled with people of all ages and groups: families, work outings, and friends. At a time when pantomime could be considered a dying art and with a very varied audience to entertain, director and writer Kevin Shaw worked hard to pair the traditional slapstick and improvisation of the pantomime with more current references, by no means an easy task.
However, the pairing worked well for the most part, the cast transitioning easily from a rendition of YouTube hit ‘Baby Shark’ to a good old-fashioned round of “He’s behind you!” There were moments perhaps too crude for much of the older audience (and in all honesty, too crude for me), thanks to the Ugly Squeezepocket Sisters. But for the most part the fine line between humour and crudeness was balanced well. The sisters (played by Simeon Truby and Fine Time Fontayne) were a dynamic duo, and played off each other very well – anything that slipped over the line of crudeness only further delighted the younger audience members!
Such a varied script could only be carried off by a strong cast, and Shaw presented a diverse cast that clearly relished working with one another. Shorelle Hepkin played a vibrant and energetic Cinderella, with a radiant smile rivaled by nobody else on stage. Her Prince Charming, Chante Faucher, provided a strong performance, made even more impressive in the pin-thin high heeled boots she flitted across the stage in with ease.
The stand out performance of the night came from Sue Devaney, a veteran of the Coliseum, who carried out a brilliant performance of the wicked stepmother Vyella. Devaney played to the crowd’s response well and fuelled her performance further with humoured interactions. Her vocals added further to her performance, a step above what might usually be called for in a pantomime.
Devaney also featured in arguably the best scene of the night, even if it was accidentally so; a seeming lapse in memory amongst the stepmother and sisters created a moment of improvisation that led the audience to laugh out loud, myself included. Pantomime lends itself well to moments like these, and credit should be given to how well this scene was carried out.
Further mentions should be given to the beautiful scenery, and to the back-up dancers who performed with energy and elegance throughout the show, displaying a level of professionalism above their age. Overall, a light-hearted and fun night for anyone looking for a laugh, and a way to ease into the festive spirit. Definitely worth the trip over to Oldham!