The Marlowe Theatre’s Cinderella pantomime brings forth an ingenious interconnection of the old tale of Cinderella with comical modern twists. It is a fresh approach to the classic tale, with connotations to contemporary political issues, technological developments, and national jokes.
We were lucky enough to talk with the talented Lloyd Hollett, who plays Melania, one of the ugly stepsisters. Although Hollett plays the incredibly boisterous and weirdly lovable Melania, for only nine weeks of the year, he describes it as being ‘home’ for him. “Panto is like therapy for me”.
The pantomime is set with a grandiose decor, bright lights, glitter, and small flash pots which play into the atmosphere. The crowd and performers transmit an incredible amount of emotion, enticing and involving the viewers into the story. The use of forced gestures from the performers meant for the understanding of children, and to incite cheers and applause, is enjoyable for all, not stripping the experience of its magic. The Marlowe’s production maintains an excitable atmosphere throughout the performance, interlaced with local jokes and addressing the audience, fulfilling the ‘rough around the edges’ expectation of a pantomime.
The cast performed beautifully, introducing the public to comical satirized characters (Donaldina and Melania - Cinderella’s stepsisters), characters which stir sympathy (Buttons, Baron Hardup and Cinderella), and laughter (Fairy Godmother, Dandini and Prince Charming). The characters had their own bursts of raw energy, each effortlessly radiating into the audience.
Another exciting part of the pantomime was the live orchestra which gave the performance a “rock and roll west-end musical feel”. Hollett told us that this is the reason their “panto is so unique”. The music included popular songs such as: ‘Who let the dogs out’, ‘Make you feel my love’, ‘One night only’ and many more.
The voice of Cara Dudgeon (Cinderella) shone throughout the pantomime. Her strong vocal control and melodious tone hugely contributed to the prevailing enthusiastic energy of the performance. The dancers have shown spectacular moments of artistic talent in the main scenes of the pantomime, such as the Duo Fusion’s silk scene. The costumes have also attracted attention, especially Cinderella’s magical dress transformation. The producer, Paul Hendy, is responsible for the ideas behind the extravagant costumes worn by the step-sisters. “He was always rattling through social media, trying to incorporate popular trends into traditional ensembles”, says Hollett.
The special effects were not disappointing as they produced a truly enchanting atmosphere. It is important to mention that the flash pots and high-intensity sounds may disturb certain audience members.
Witty, sharp, and fresh, the pantomime entertains and invigorates the crowd. The mix of theatrical humour, slapstick, and excellent improvisation complement each other and create natural comedic value. “We can’t improvise too much because the show has a certain duration, but if something funny happens we often choose to keep it in”. Lloyd points out that because of the tendency to improvise, the closing night ends up being a “completely different show” from the opening night.
The interactive element makes you feel like you are in an intimate atmosphere, where inside jokes are shared between the cast and the audience, keeping you laughing all the way through. Perfect for an exhilarating night for both adults and children, we highly recommend Marlowe’s quirky adaptation of Cinderella.