The Florians Theatre
FLORIANS’ pantos are more intimate affairs than some of their larger neighbours, and none the worse for that.
With a large part of the budget seemingly spent on the Ugly Sisters’ make-up, panto-goers will have to rely on their imagination to conjure up Cinderella’s magic coach, though Cinderella’s transformation from rags into beautiful party dress is achieved with a magically deft sleight of hand.
Instead of slick special effects, what you do get from the enthusiastic Inverness club are strong performances and a particularly strong fun script from Trevor Nicol, who also doubles up with brother Nicholas as two memorably gruesome Ugly Sisters, flirting with the unfortunate menfolk in the audience and being deliciously vile to Cinderella and each other.
Matching them for laughs are the little and large pairing big Gerry Sutton and petite Morag Barron as dimwitted henchmen Bud and Lou, who get some of the best jokes and do a fearless and hilarious, if slightly naughty, cabaret turn.
For an amateur cast there is a pleasantly high standard to the performances, from Fiona Chapman’s slighty dippy Fairy Godmother, Aileen Hendry’s poisonous wicked stepmother and Johnathan Stuart’s particularly put upon Baron Hardup to Rhia Mackenzie in the title role.
Not only does she look the part, she can sing a bit too — though her chemistry with Benedict Donnelly’s energetic Buttons does make you think for a moment she would be better off with him rather than Sophie Maxtone’s Prince Charming.
Although Nicol's script is now some 20 years old, it in no way feels dated, thanks to more topical references and up-dated songs with lyrics from director Caroline Nicol (Trevor's wife) - Jessie J's Price Tag is nicely re-tooled as a duet for the money-grabbing Baroness Hardup and the miserly Baron.
A company that consistently provides solid seasonal entertainment, this is one of The Florians' best