A [Not So] Traditional Pantomime. From a story by Tony Nicholls adapted by Judy Neumann. Director: Roger McKenzie. Gold Coast Little Theatre, Southport. Queensland. Dec 7 – 16, 2018.

Billed as a magical, musical world of Pantomime, the show is a not-so-traditional take on the much loved Cinderella scenario. It is a creative blend of family fun and darker, tongue in cheek humour, packed with quirky characters. This is no production for the politically correct and the careful gender protectors. After all, this is pantomime where the gloves are off and we are shown ourselves for what we are. That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun at our own expense. Laughing at misfortune is the role of pantomime.

Here, villagers of all ages are given over to the younger generation, who are not constrained by their youth – indeed the formal dance at the Palace Ball is presented, with aplomb by Linton Hartley and Sienna Earwicker, who are two of the youngest of the youthful Village troupe.

Well to the fore is a bete noire creation of the usual fairy godmother. A mercurial, shape-changing, Lucifer: sexily played with gusto by Maria Buckler, “Just call me Lucy”. It is Lucy that calls the shots by granting wishes in a desperate bid for souls. When it was protested that the Devil should be male, Lucy retorts that she just changed sex – “It happens a lot these days!”  Meanwhile, Tamika Stephan as Lucy’s diabolical assistant, Inferna, darkly ensures that the Goodies don’t get an even break.

The title role is played by Arielle Cartwright with all the demure innocence the character requires to win her charming prince. A dashing George Pulley plays Prince Charming  (in his third back-to-back production at this venue) with highly charged energy. He pushes the action along at every appearance and is not thwarted by the efforts of a dastardly scheming Count Dandini (Rory Impellizzeri) and his two bumbling underlings, Moe and Mick (Michael Greenwood and Dave Fraser). Naomi Mole is always a full-on musical performer and as step-mother Baroness Pumpernickel is supported by the traditionally ugly, bordering-on-revolting, sisters played as unashamed self-indulgence by Alison Murray (Lysteria) and Judy Neumann (Dyspepsia) as they mine audience response.  Another comic coupling of Steve Silanski, the long suffering Baron and Denis Watkins as the trifle-wielding valet, Buttons (although unrequited in his love for Cinderella, he is overjoyed at being finally sacked by the Baroness) provide an additional source of fun. This show is an unapologetic, fun entertainment.                            

Joel Beskin

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