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Tuesday, 02 February 2016 (3074599)
Show goes on despite illnesses and technical problems
by Ron Ellis


West End Players

Lord Street West Hall, Southport

Review By Ron Ellis

AFTER reviewing a series of star-studded pantomimes with huge budgets playing in large theatres, it made a change to go back to seeing a true old-fashioned amateur show in a church hall.

Plagued by technical problems and illness among the cast, the company did well to get this production on the road, saved at the last minute by the minister, Reverend Peter Hughes, who stood in to play the piano in place of Margaret Prew who was taken ill before the first performance.

Her golden hair shimmering beneath the spotlights, Jenny Robson made a delightfully wistful Cinderella, courted by a stately Prince Charming in the form of Kay Billingsley. Chloe Ackers sang beautifully in her role as the Fairy Godmother and Jacquie Bolshaw’s dancing steps as Dandini were amazing to behold.

A confident Neil Spruce played the impecunious Baron Hardup with Dorothy Hughes as his grumpy wife, Lady Hardup. Adele O’Neil and Linda Cunningham, dressed in Charlie Chaplain outfits, played Smith and Snatch, the brokers men. Steve Aird was Major Domo.

In reality, this was less like a pantomime than an episode in a popular comedy show where the regular well-loved characters are performing in a pantomime as, insomuch as nearly everyone in the hall seemed to be connected in some way with at least one member of the cast, the audience became part of the action.

Two rows, for example, were filled with members of the U3A Drama Group who themselves had put on Cinderella days before, starring John and Jan Husdell. John was now on this stage giving an urbane performance as Buttons while Jan was one of the Ugly Sisters, and their former Thespian colleagues cheered their every move which they in turn acknowledged. But were they applauding the characters or the actors?

The other Ugly Sister was Greta Wharton and together, she and Jan ad-libbed their way through a comedy act Lily Savage couldn’t have bettered.

One of the best features of the show was the lively music accompanied by some fine dancing by the West End Players Juniors, choreographed by Chloe Ackers. All the audience joined in heartily for numbers like The Time Warp, The Pizza Hut Song and Bonnie Tyler’s Looking Out for a Hero.

Wardrobe Department had gathered together a splendid set of costumes and there was plenty of slapstick action involving water pistols, foam and giant spiders. The children in the audience, in particular, had a wonderful time, shouting and singing along at every opportunity.

'Cinderella’ was produced and directed by Wendy Aspin and Diana Draper. The final performances take place at 7.30pm next Friday and Saturday evening, Feb 5 and 6, with a matinee at 2.15pm on the Saturday afternoon.

Star Rating: 6 out of 10  A heroic effort 

Photo by Ellen Campbell. Cinderella finale.


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