Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Cut to the Chase at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch

Home-grown in Hornchurch and all the tastier for it, the Queen's Cinderella has the kids screaming from the off.

As they proudly point out, the show is staged by Cut to the Chase, their resident company of actor-musicians, and the sumptuous scenery and colourful costumes are all designed and made in-house. The songs, too, are specially written by MD Carol Sloman.

Always good to see repertory actors let it all hang out at Christmas time, and this show boasts two of the ugliest sisters you could imagine, in Simon Jessop's Asphyxia and Tom Jude's Euthanasia. Not surprisingly, they work wonderfully well together, and sport some gorgeous creations [Jean Roberts]: faux fur to start, and a gourmet spread for the walk-down.

Cinders herself is Queen's star Natasha Moore, delightfully coy with her "Barry" [Niall Costigan's posh Prince Charming], then radiant at the ball. Stuart Organ makes a Pickwickian Hardup, with his horseless carriage, while Mark Stanford is a popular Buttons, making the most of his catchphrase interplay with the audience.

Bob Carlton wrote the script, and directs a stylish take on the old tale, with a lovely prologue, delivered by the Fairy Godmother [Karen Fisher-Pollard] in her old lady guise and illustrated with clever silhouettes. The settings are superb, with a sparkly front cloth and a story-book village street vista. The auditorium is well used, too: the hunting of Lucy the fox, with beagles, and the search for the foot the slipper fits, with reward posters.

Act One ends of course with the transformation, a substantial coach taking flight as the upstage area opens up; Act Two starts with an ingenious Strictly spoof, giving the eight youngsters a spell in the spotlight.

No dearth of traditional [old] gags and routineseven Busy Bee is pressed into service for another generation. But there's lots that is fresh and topical"We're all in this together", ker-ching name checks for the sponsors, even a plug for the Dario Fo in Marchtheatre's not just for Christmas !

It's a fast-paced, colourful panto which doesn't take itself too seriously, and has the audience with it all the way, "corporates, creditors and critics" included, not forgetting Keith in the middle of row D ...

production image by Nobby Clark

this piece first appeared on The Public Reviews

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