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A Panto for All

Team Cinders

Cinderella, The Albany Theatre, Coventry, runs until 8 January 2023.

Review by Anne Callan.

What a lovely family night out at the Albany Theatre in Coventry. Their Cinderella story was a wonderful lead-in to the New Year and the full house audience were delighted and in full voice throughout!

The community show included some well-known songs and a lively troupe of dancers kept the energy levels high. Choreography was by Katie Gavin assisted by Niamh Lawrence. Notable performances came from the Fairy Godmother (Lucy Baille) and Dandini (Bethan Arnold) who both had standout voices. Lucy from Coventry has grown up on the Albany Theatre stage. After catcing the theatre bug she continued her dream by graduating with a Drama Degree, Masters and Musical Theatre Diploma. Lucy is a teacher and also runs ‘Elevate Theatre’, a local children’s performing Arts school on Friday evenings. Bethan has been passionate about the theatre since she first saw a Blegrade panto when she was just 11 years old. She has since developed her skills by attending West End MT a London musical theatre training program and attended YOG and Elevate Theatre.

Team Buttons

Buttons the Bell Boy (Kevin Wing) also did a sterling job of keeping things moving along. Kevin is a familiar face on the Warwickshire Theatre scene. He has also performed previously and directed for the Coventry Youth Operetta Group (YOG). Don't forget to submit your “shout outs” before the show or during the interval to get personalised messages from Buttons himself during the second half.

The Ugly Sisters (Shane Robson and Chris Arnold) were a fun pairing on the brink of fully releasing their slapstick talents and melodrama. Some minor first night sound and light glitches threw no one off balance as the company and the audience were carried along in the fun. Chris has performed at many of the region’s theatres including the RSCs Courtyard Theatre, the Belgrade, the Albany Theatre Coventry and of course at the Albany. Also, as a Director, Cinderella, West Side Story, Fame, Cabaret, Sweet Charity Back to the Eighties and Eurobeat are amongst his most memorable productions. Shane is also a familiar face on the local theatre scene and beyond, both acting and directing. Last year Shane co-directed Dick Whittington with Albany productions and is very excited to be back this year with old and new companions.

Cinderella was played beautifully by Jessie Wilson who offered warm and gentle grace from beginning to end - we loved her tender moments and her magical dresses. She has been performing since the age of three and is currently training with KT School of Dance. Jessie also attends Birmingham Orminston Academy (BOA) where she studies musical theatre and is currently in her final year. The dashing Prince Charming of Cheylesmore Castle was played by Lucy King who also started her training as a three-year old at Pattison College and then went on to complete the three year performing arts course obtaining Level 4 diplomas in various styles of dance. With a number of theatre credits under her belt, this is actually Lucy's first panto!

Barron Boothby Hardup of Hardup Hall was played by Coventrian Rob Lord who has been acting since he was 18. He recently appeared at the Albany Theatre in the National Drama Festival finals, representing The Criterion Theatre, where they won Best One Act play with ‘The Gift’. And last but not least, the character with perhaps the longest title in the history of panto - Countessa Vyella Dipstick Squeezepocket the 31st of Hardup was played by Lilian McGrath. Lilian trained at the Birmingham School of Drama in the 90’s and returned to the stage in 2018 after a gap of over 20 years. She has since appeared regularly on the Criterion Theatre Stage with many credits to her name.

The show was directed by Jonathan Howes who made his stage debut in 1977 and has subsequently enjoyed an illustrious career appearing in numerous plays and musicals. Also, as a founder member of the award-winning Watch Productions he has appeared in many productions including Someone to Watch Over Me and Bouncers at the Edinburgh Festival. He has also directed for numerous local group productions. Jonathan has been Assistant Director to Steve Boden on a number of productions including Phantom of the Opera, Whistle Down the Wind, Aida, Starlight Express and Barnum (YOG) Annie, Oliver, Shrek and Peter Pan (CMTS). Jonathan’s next project will be as Assistant Director to Steve Boden on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (YOG).

The Musical Director for the show was Tim Spencer with a fantastic Production Team all pulling together to produce a fabulous show.

All in all, a sterling family night out that fulfilled our wonderful winter tradition in every way. Oh yes it did!


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