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SINDERELLA COMES AGAIN (article first published : 2002-11-6)

The genre of adult pantomime became entrenched at the Playhouse Cellar for many years and grew into something of an institution in Durban over the festive season. The team of Peter Court (director), Patrick Hyland (scriptwriter) and actors Anthony Stonier, De Wet Wraight, Karen Campbell Gillies and Heather Barclay-Whiffen have banded together for a revival of an earlier production of Sinderella.

Moving out of the centre of town, they are currently presenting Sinderella Comes Again at the Lango’s Theatre in Durban North.

I don’t believe the production works as well as it did the first time around but this probably has a lot to do with the change of venue. The Cellar stage is far more intimate than Lango’s and while a cast of six can fill the Cellar’s performing area, the production tends to look a little sparse on the wider Lango’s stage although Greg King’s design is fun and colourful.

Heather Barclay-Whiffen is delicious as the forthright gin-swilling Fairy Godmother but a lot of the time she is tucked away on the side of the stage on a vast bed. As Heather is wearing an equally vast crinoline, this provides a strong vehicle for humour and she certainly takes hilarious advantage of the opportunity!

Karen Campbell-Gillies is at her best in ditsy blonde bimbo roles and she brings a delightful vagueness and ingenuity to the role of Sinderella. Between them, Sinderella and Buttons - disarmingly played by the engaging Dean Roberts – don’t have a vast amount of brain cells between them so much laughter is gained at their expense.

Stephan Marneweck, who impressed me the last time he performed in Durban, is a highly suitable Prince Charming. Good looking and statuesque, he frolics through the steady stream of double entendres, charming the audience and proving that he’s no mean vocalist.

However, the show belongs fairly and squarely to the two Ugly Sisters, Candida and Gonorrhea – did I remember to mention that this is definitely an adult pantomime? – and the lion’s share of laughs and comic situations land in their laps. “Aren’t we adorable?” they ask the audience and, if the answer is not to their liking, offer a caustic suggestion as to a point of departure! Of course, it is fairly impossible to upstage Anthony Stonier, particularly when he’s in full flight and looking utterly glamorous, but de Wet Wraight holds his ground with a pouting character that has a voracious appetite for bananas.(I did mention it was an adult pantomime, didn’t I?)

Costume designer Andrew Verster must have had much fun in creating the outfits for the Ugly Sisters. The hats, all with some kind of bird theme, are masterpieces in themselves.

Produced by Gary McKenzie and Sue Clarence, the show rattles along at a spanking (no pun intended!) rate and all the usual pantomime devices are there: the ghost who decimates the quintet until the sight of Candida has it rushing off in terror; the audience participation number and the If I were not upon the stage … number with its highly suggestive movements!

The press night was held on a Sunday which meant that a two-course meal was provided but normally for starters there’s Cajun Chicken Salad, Creamy Butternut Soup and Grilled Black Mushroom topped with a Cheese Sauce. Main course options are Arabian-style marinated Beef which was most enjoyable or Chicken Breast Cordon Bleu or Vegetable Linguine. For dessert, there’s Apple Crumble or Christmas Pudding, but the latter was more in the style of a piece of Christmas cake than a pudding.

Sinderella Comes Again runs at the Lango’s Theatre in Durban North through to New Year. Booking at Computicket or Lango’s theatre directly on 031 563-7324.




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