Highcliffe Charity Players    Regent Centre, Christchurch Chelsea Ball   27 January 2023

It is January and, of course, that means we are in the midst of pantomime season across our beloved local theatre companies (oh yes we are!). With so much choice, it can be difficult to know which one to pick. Whilst I cannot speak for any other pantos, I can confirm that Highcliffe Charity Players have, once again, produced a bloomin’ good show with this years’ pantomime, Cinderella.

The production team did a great job of choosing a Cinderella script, with a slight twist. It was really refreshing to see a slightly different take on the classic fairytale. The show was clearly a great hit amongst the kids, but there were plenty of little jokes and innuendos to keep the adults entertained too. Tom Whalley has written a great script, which has been very well directed by Pete Whittaker.

It would be remiss not to mention the great band, led by Stuart Darling as MD, it’s always a pleasure hearing a live band play during shows. It really helps to add to the magic. Speaking of magic, there were some technical effects that were particularly dazzling for both adults and children. All in all, the show was pretty technically solid for a first night.

In the titular role, Olivia Reeks played a very sweet and innocent Cinderella extremely well. The key with any princess role is likeability, and Olivia had that in spades. Cinderella would be nothing without her handsome love interest, Prince Charming. John-Luke Greenacre put a really amusing spin on the charming role, playing him with a fun, silliness that made him equally as likeable. They made a very sweet pair.

Malcolm George was an excellent choice for Buttons and really helped to bring a lot of energy to the stage. As a friend to the audience, the Buttons role absolutely has to be engaging and Malcolm clearly had no problem with that at all. It was quite a rowdy audience, but everyone was completely on his side.

We were treated to two dames this year with the villainous ugly sisters Danni and Fanny, who were played by Stan Smith and Harry Young. This pairing was an absolutely perfect match the two actors were clearly having a blast. They played well with the audience and were so different that they were very entertaining to watch.

Georgie Carter stunned the audience with her flawless fairy godmother performance, and her gorgeous costume! Matt Morrell was a lot of fun to watch as the bumbling, oafish Baron.

The show featured a large dancing chorus of both adults and children. It was lovely to watch some of the background activity and see everyone so engrossed in their roles. There were plenty of smiles and animation which really helped to bring the whole show to life.

A great evening was had by all, so I suggest you gather up your pumpkins and head to the Regent Centre this weekend. You won’t regret it.