Slapstick, preposterous humour, sizzling dance and so much more

Cast members of the forthcoming Devonshire Park panto Cinderella

Christmas? We’ve hardly got over the heatwave, and you’ve only just got the kids back to school – but for this year’s Devonshire Park pantomime, there are 84 days and counting.

The cast of Cinderella bounced into town this week, to launch what has become one of the biggest and best-loved seasonal productions in the South-East.

Director Chris Jordan’s latest venture promises to break new boundaries. A record 63 performances are scheduled, from previews on Friday December 7 to the final curtain on Sunday January 13.

He said: “Yes, that final show takes on a life of its own. It is already heavily sold before last year’s run has ended! But be assured that the other 62 performances will be just as wonderful.

“This year we are back to the show which is often called the ultimate pantomime, Cinderella. Our production will have all the expected ingredients, of course – the lavish costumes, the slapstick and preposterous humour, the sizzling dance and music. But through it all, the beautiful story shines through. Love conquers all and breaks all the barriers!”

Officially, this week’s event was merely a launch and photo-call, but you’d never have known it. Full make-up and costumes were the order of the day. Indeed, one or two patrons arriving at the foyer box office looked a bit bemused to be greeted by a splendidly dressed cast, visibly in character, and they must have wondered if they had their diaries wrong!

But the fairy dust soon worked its magic, and the patrons booked, beamed - and, no doubt, stepped back out into a cool September morning with a little seasonal glow.

Ugly Sisters Martyn Knight and Scott St Martyn – who incidentally are boyhood friends going back exactly fifty years – were in fabulous full sail as they toured various locations around the town. Joining them were Katherine Glover as Prince Charming and Laura Baldwin in the title role: elegance and sweetness perfectly paired.

And with Fairy Godmother Hilary O’Neil assuredly keeping order, and a disruptive Tucker expertly undermining her, the cast looked nicely primed for opening night.

They might just as well have gone straight into rehearsals…

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