LUTON PHOENIX PLAYERS
1992 - PRESENT
Luton Phoenix Players ©2017
PHOENIX PLAYERS “CINDERELLA” 9/12/17
Director: Richard Lovelock MD: Tom Arnold
Choreographer: Sarah Albert
Monarch Aircraft Engineering, Hangar 127, Luton Airport
I was so happy to be able to see two performances of Phoenix Players Cinderella, performed in a pop-up theatre courtesy of Monarch Engineering. It was a very different sort of venue, but it worked beautifully, and I’m sure Phoenix were thrilled to get the chance to use such an exciting, if possibly testing venue.
The Monarch staff, led by MD Chris Dare, were very welcoming, and it was a pre-requisite for the audience to see round a plane in the adjoining hangar – that thrill followed by a traditional pantomime, full of audience participation, jokes and lovely effects, was an afternoon of entertainment well worth seeing.
The stage was a little too deep, as some of the action plus the lib from unmic’d cast was sometimes difficult to see and hear, but otherwise the sound balance was remarkable, and the lighting was very good throughout – full marks to the technical teams led by Kyle O’Hara, Matt Stevens, Tim Garside & Lauren Evans.
I was particularly taken by the MD, Tom Arnold, who at only 16 years old commanded from the start, and gave us some great music from his band, well thought out, and some good harmonies from the cast. Very impressed with this young man.
Sarah Albert’s choreography suited the various levels of ability and everyone looked comfortable with what they were doing. Nicely achieved.
Well-directed by Richard Lovelock, there were some excellent performances, and the level of commitment and energy from everyone was very good.
The costumes were a little hit and miss – the Uglies were great, as were Prince Charming’s, Dandini’s and Cinderella’s, but I felt the ensemble and Buttons were a little below par in some respects, attention to detail could have solved this with very little effort.
The two teams of children were both charming and attentive to detail, they performed their main numbers well, and it was great to see Jordan Hiepner on stage, despite having broken his leg and being confined to a wheelchair – so lovely of the team to rally round so that he could be included. Solos from all the young people were very accomplished, and I enjoyed both teams equally, which isn’t often the case, so well done to all.
Kelly Sheppard-Jones gave us a super enthusiastic portrayal of Dandini – I loved her exuberance and energy – very well done, whilst Reece Lowen was a real Prince Charming (his first principal panto role), very laid back and proper, but tackling his songs with gusto and providing a great contrast to Dandini – a super pairing.
Scott Newman was a suitably upbeat Buttons, getting the audience involved from the outset, a very cheeky chappie who we all felt sorry for when Cinders got her Prince! The range of emotions were good.
I liked Hannah Synan-Jones as Cinderella, she was feisty and charming, her relationships with the other characters were all good, and as they should be.
Barry Hyde and Jackie Hensley were the Ugly Sisters, and boy did they live up to their names, they had some super stand out costumes, they looked super, whilst being rather revolting – great!
Their evil stepmother was played with great enjoyment by Tracey Chatterley – she has rather made the role of ‘Wicked .....’ her own – she has the right type of voice and is not afraid to be hated by the audience. A fine contrast to the other characters, and a good grouping with her awful daughters!
Dee Lovelock created a fun Fairy Godmother, she always gives a part edge, and doesn’t respond to stereotypes, so her portrayal was funny but still gave us the magic we require. I liked the downgrade to ‘Nan’ for when she visited Cinders in the wood!
Bill Lovegrove completed the principal line-up as the downtrodden Baron – he reacted well to the Baroness, and I loved it when he turned on her at the end.
All in all I had a very enjoyable afternoon, and loved seeing both performances, a very good pantomime.
My thanks to Phoenix for their hospitality and to Monarch Engineering for hosting the production, truly special, and my congratulations to all involved for making it happen.