Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Cinderella Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne Review

Devonshire Park Theatre
01323 412000
10th December 2010 -16th January 2011

Performance seen 14th December 2010


(Appearance Order)

Rachel Jerram as Cinderella
Gillian Wright as Fairy Godmother
Clare Buckfield as Dandini
Nicolas Colicos as Baron Hardup **
Kate Burrell as Prince Charming
Joseph Pitcher as Buttons
Martyn Knight as Marjorie Hardup
Richard Pocock as Floribunda Hardup

** replacing Tony Adams who was indisposed

Ensemble: (alphabetical) Kelsey Cobban, Hollie Ellis, James Jacob-Lomas, Daniel Mackinlay, Gabriella Antrobus, Courtney Boyle, Alice Burton, Gemma Taylor

and the students from the Deborah Lamb School

Team A Chorus: Jenny Goff, Eleri Jones, Millie Jones. Emily Muxworthy, Gracie Lofthouse, Holly Bingham
Team B Chorus Beth Aldis, Fenella Smith, Gabby Conradie, Sally Neve, Emily Valentine, Leanne Tunaley

The Band

Keyboards/MD - Robert Cousins
Reeds/ Keyboards - Andy Stewart
Trumpet/ Flugal - Brian Rance
Bass Guitar - Oli Briant
Percussion/ Drums - Ollie Boorman

First things first I won't be giving this a final rating just yet for reasons I will explain in a moment.

However this is a truly excellent, very funny ,pantomime which will appeal to family members of all ages

If you want to give the family a really good night out this Christmas this is a must-book-show!

This show will receive a very high rating, quite possibly 5/5. However to be fair this county and indeed the whole country seems to have gone Cinderella mad this year. I have two further productions of Cinderella to judge at Hastings and at Royal Tunbridge Wells. I think it is only right to see all 3 and then compare their overall merits. (Rating has now been added)

Gillian Wright and Rachel Jerram Fairy Godmother and CinderellaChris Jordan's Eastbourne production at the Devonshire Park Theatre has set an incredibly high standard for the other shows to live up to. It will be hard to equal let alone beat.

The cast are incredible, the script is great and hilarious with plenty of topical humour. The varied set, depending on location, is quite beautiful ,bright colourful and well made. The live band led by MD Robert Cousins are always impressive. There are some very clever special effects. The range and quality of the costumes is amazing.

The music has been kept up-to date with tracks that both children and adults are familiar with.

No real Shit-land ponies in this one. The spelling being intentional there as I know how many actors hate dodging pony poo on stage in this annual panto favourite.

I won't spoil the surprise but lets just say that Chris Jordan has gone all out this year to perform something that no Shetland pony could ever do. It is a piece of animation and (invisible) mechanical excellence that will impress everybody who can see it.

I say that because it was a great shame that when this effect took place so much dry ice 'vapor mist' was pumped into the auditorium at such great speed that the view of this great moment was obscured for the first 6-8 rows in the stalls. We were literally fog bound for a while. The rest of the auditorium thoroughly enjoyed this great piece as it was meant to be seen.
With gorgeous Clare Buckfield after Cinderella
Anyway that's a minor point and I'm not going to mark the production down because of it and with such a long run into January there is still time to get this mist balance right so that this key piece of the show gets the full applause and appreciation it deserves.

One noticeable part of the show which was missing this year was the part of the show where they seem to find an excuse for a custard pie throwing / messy slapstick routine. Maybe it was difficult to find a way to incorporate it into Cinderella?

Thank God for that! I certainly didn't miss it and judging from the fabulous time every single child appeared to be having they didn't need it either. I am sure the stage hands didn't miss the speedy annual clean up either during the interval.

Lets talk about this fabulous cast but first a mention for a dear friend of mine,Tony Adams, who unfortunately was unable to appear due to ill health. Tony (who was last at the DPT in Last of The Summer Wine) was still scheduled to appear right up to the first night performance. Realising he simply wasn't going to be able to make it through the show Nicolas Colicos stepped into Baron Hardup's shoes.

It wasn't Nic's first time at the Devonshire Park Theatre either having been in By Jeeves three years previously. But on that occasion he had far more than 24 hours to learn a script and had the luxury of some rehearsal time.

Nicolas Colicos Cinderella Eastbourne 2010/2011Yes we saw Nicolas a few days after first night but I understand he was brilliant even on that opening show.

On this night Tuesday 14th you would never have known that he hadn't had the same rehearsal time as everybody else, he just fitted in perfectly. Although being the perfectionist he is he still left this after show function early to ensure  he has all his lines spot on. Now that is dedication to duty and a huge well done to you Nicolas you were amazing!

As for those who were hoping to see Crossroads legend Tony Adams I have been in touch with him and hopefully he is now on the road to recovery and, fingers crossed, he is hoping to feel more his normal self by Christmas.

I am sure the cast, crew ,The Friends Of The Devonshire Park Theatre and everybody involved with the production of Cinderella wish Tony a speedy full recovery and a Happy Christmas! We hope to see you back in Eastbourne again soon!

Well the belle of the ball is Cinderella and doesn't she just look the part even out of costume? This perfectly cast slipper losing princess is played so sweetly by the pretty Rachel Jerram who has only recently finished appearing in her West End role in Avenue Q.

Gillian Wright (aka Jean Slater) supporting GOSH
Dear Gillian Wright - never before at the Devonshire Park Theatre have I heard such a long, spontaneous loud warm welcome for an actress when all she did was walk on in her fairy outfit. Eastenders ' Jean Slater ' clearly has a huge amount of public respect.

Rightly so as she was completely sublime
with her whole performance completely in rhyme. 
A regular wave of her wand in the air
cast aside her depression in Albert Square.
The kids adored her, adults too
professional acting through and through.
Asked if the entrance reaction had been nice
she said it had been a tremendous surprise.
She did a charity signing for great Ormond Street
for suffering kids a gift so neat.
Her role in Cinders is funny and crazy
but better than madness and yellings of Stacey!!
So Gillian Wright you were star of the show
Thank goodness for that as this rhyming can go!

The lovely Clare Buckfield after Cinderella EastbourneClare Buckfield as Dandini. I always love watching Clare and her equally talented identical twin sister, Julie. As regards to the theatre I find the only difficult thing trying to remember which production I saw which sister in last. It wasn't too difficult this time round as Clare had not so long ago starred in the touring Little Shop Of Horrors as Audrey.

In Cinderella ,the seemingly never aging, Clare dons the fishnets (the things us men have to endure in the interest of culture!) to play Dandini. Well as Prince Charming's valet she is predictably perfect and as always I am left looking forward to whatever productions the Buckfield sisters turn up in next.

Like Gillian, Clare was another star who kindly did a great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) signing for me for starcards.org. Thank you to you both so much for your kind support.

On a personal note I've lost track of the number of times I've met Clare now but no matter whatever the location, weather or setting she is always one of the warmest most genuine artists to meet. Always with a smile, always up for a chat and always never looking any older !!

Christmas Crackers Rachel Jerram and Kate BurrellClare's partner in fishnets this year is the gorgeous Kate Burrell as Prince Charming. Kate's height makes her look particularly good in the role and the Buckfield / Burrell combination works extremely well on stage.
Kate has a diverse CV in theatre and TV  and seems to have played a fair number of roles in farces.

In or out of her fishnets I'd love to see Ms Burrell again. Yes perhaps I could have worded that better but hey if I can't put a bit of innuendo in at panto season when can I?

Ah the ugly sisters aka Richard Pocock and Martyn Knight. Martyn Knight is like a piece of furniture at Eastbournes Pantos. If the poster says "back by popular demand" for Martyn you can believe it, he is absolutely adored by all the kids. This is his 7th year and Martyn cannot imaging life without Eastbourne Panto and quite possibly panto could not be imagined without him. This year his partner in horrendous bright OTT outfits is actor Richard Pocock. Despite the fact in previous years we have got somewhat used to Carl Patrick playing Martyns sidekick the Pocock / Knight pairing works extremely well and is extremely funny throughout

Martyn Knight Cinderella Eastbourne 2010/2011A word of warning to adult audience members never, ever refuse to give Martyn your Christian name.

He has ways of making you talk !!

That really just leaves Joseph Pitcher as lovable Buttons. As usual Buttons is the true comedian of the show and quite possibly the kids best friend (although in all fairness I think it was a battle between him and Gillian for stealing the kids hearts) But with sweets in hand to throw to the audience and goodie bags to be dished out to a few brave young souls who got up on stage to perform bribery probably gets Buttons the 2010/2011 award as childrens' champion!

Finally lets not forget all the people behind the scenes who put this incredible pantomine together. Not only that but everything this year was a challenge. The early heavy snow meant the costume designers were snowed in! The artists trying to rehearse were snowed out! Poor Tony Adams was battling to perform but couldn't. Yet Nicolas Colicos achieved the seemingly impossible practically absorbing the whole script and performance in less than one day.

A triumph of a panto which could so easily have been a disaster without the hard work of so many dedicated people. Well done to Chris Jordan and everybody involved in Cinderella. Its a marvellously entertaining show from start to finish.

Book it, see it, love it!
5 out of 5 for Cinderella Eastbourne 2010/2011

Print This Entry


  1. Patricia, Kaitlyn and Anastasia Payne30 December 2010 at 23:07

    Hi, I took my 6 year old and 15 year old to this panto today 30th december. both girls and myself had a fantastic time. My 6 year old has been poorly for most of this Christmas break and it was lovely to hear her giggle most of the way through this. The carriage scene is fantastic. we would just like to say thanks and well donw to back stage and actors. A real treat!

  2. Having sat through the really awful Cinderella the
    Musical at Brighton,s Theatre Royal, I am really looking forward to a real panto on Friday.Mike Lang, Brighton.

  3. Thanks very much for that Mike. Can you please post again omce you have seen the Eastbourne show? I don't think you will be disappointed. Have a good night out!


Thank you in advance for your show comment or feedback