Review: Cinderella at Solihull Arts Complex
From the moment Lorraine O’Leary’s blarney infused ‘Fairy Nuff’ takes to the stage to get the show rolling to the final singalong, Solihull’s annual pantomime is a joy to behold.
It also continues a lengthy tradition for Solihull entertainer Malcolm Stent, who writes and stars in his 24th consecutive production.
The seasoned entertainer was clearly struggling with a chest infection for this particular production but as they say in theatre land – ‘the show must go on’.
And went on it did, in true traditional pantomime style.
Solihull’s seasonal show does not boast the X Factor runners-up and former soap stars who tend to populate some of the bigger pantomime productions in the region but it’s none the worse for that.
It has come to rely on a selection of mostly young, talented performers who always give their all.
Janine Hipkins sparkled as Cinderella, ably augmented by Adam Fray as Buttons, Hayley Ann Clarke as Prince Charming and Elise Evans as Dandini.
Malcolm Stent revelled in the role of Cinders’ father Baron Hardup while Lorraine O’Leary also played the role of Fairy Godmother Shaylee, as well as choreographing all the dance routines in the show.
Oliver Hume and Andrew Cullum were the perfect dastardly and devious duo as the ugly sisters Flatulence’sa and Malodorous, while Marcus Fernando excelled as the scheming Bailiff Filcher D’Weasel.
The remaining cast members were kept busy fulfilling a variety of roles and performing many of the song and dance numbers that power the show along, the highlight of which was Rocking All Over the World.
They included Tom Gribby as Freddie Flunckeltrumpet, Vicki Stevenson (Lucy Lastic), Ryan Douglas (Trevor Ticklemouse), Luke Whitfield (Billy Blockhead), Sarah Rymond (Tilly Trotter) and Molly Andrews (Jennifer Eccles).
Malcolm Stent’s script was, as always, well-paced and infused with the requisite degree of humour that appeals to adults and children alike but never veers too far into risqué territory.
Just as in Cinderella’s world, times are tough at Solihull Arts Complex. It was explained that the front of house roles are now undertaken by volunteers.
And, though an extensive refurbishment of the theatre is planned in time for next year’s show, Solihull Council is appealing for big-hearted benefactors to come forward in return for having a seat named after them
As always, the highlight of the show was the improvised segment where Malcolm Stent invites young members of the audience join him onstage.
He’s a seasoned campaigner in tapping this potentially rich comedic vein, always with a genial and gentle approach that helps make for a memorable evening.
This one was no exception, even if by the time of the final Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer duet, the youngster who was due to accompany him had clearly had enough and went on strike.