A Review: Cinderella in the Kingdom of Prince Edward

A prince in search of true love, a wicked stepmother who pits her equally selfish daughters against the kind-hearted Cinderella, a fairy godmother, a pumpkin coach, a lost glass slipper.  You know the story, right? Come to the Waterworks Players’ third Christmas pantomime for a delightfully different take on Charles Perrault’s classic fairy tale, Cinderella.

Children and adults alike will enjoy the antics, wordplay and fun of this story set in the Kingdom of Prince Edward. True to the spirit of the British pantomime, the characters interact with the audience, enlisting their help to cheer up Cinderella, find wayward mice, warn the Baron about the poison custard, and engage in other silliness.

Some of the characters will be familiar. The cruel stepmother, played by Phyllis Stafford, is as haughty and overbearing as one would expect. Her daughters, Gertrude and Griselda, are no nicer to each other than they are to Cinderella, who is stuck in the kitchen with only two mice for friends. A glittery fairy godmother and the requisite prince fulfill their usual roles.

Cinderella’s father is the Baron Hardup, comically played by Ed Kinman as a hard of hearing old man who announces his entrance by honking the horn on his walker. Buttons is the Baron’s cheeky valet and is secretly in love with Cinderella. He introduces the story and weaves the various plot twists together. Jordan Whiley’s performance as Buttons finds the right balance between the puns and double entendres that grown-ups will enjoy and the audience participation that makes the pantomime tradition such fun for children.

King Cuthbert is aptly played by Brenda Barringer in one of several gender role reversals in the production. Leigh Lunsford and Ellen Milligan convey the pompous attitude of the pair of royal ministers who are threatening to cut off the prince’s stipend if he does not find a bride.

Brandon Nuckols adds a comic touch in neon knickers as Dandini, the King’s secretary and Prince Rupert’s friend. Christy Moore and Jennifer Willoughby capture the ugly stepsisters in all their petty splendor. Taylor Southall is just right as Cinderella, and Aaron Willoughby makes a convincing prince. Other cast members include Rosemary Pollard as the fairy godmother, Kelsey Tony and Megan Coffin as Cinderella’s milkmaid friends, and Jesse Southall and Ashlee Todt in a variety of roles. And Elvis Presley makes a cameo appearance!

Under the direction of Dudley Sauve, Cinderella follows in the successful footsteps of the previous two pantomimes from Waterworks Players. The outlandish costumes and simple set are a perfect backdrop for the slapstick comedy of a cast who clearly enjoys having fun with the audience.

What do cobblers and fish mongers, crustaceans and chicken coops, French pen pals and sausages, and sheep with punk haircuts have to do with Cinderella? Will the ugly stepsisters find gowns for the ball at Esther May’s dress shop? Who will fall into Wilck’s Lake? Is Cinderella’s shoe the only thing that gets separated from its owner at the ball? Will Prince Rupert find happiness with Fiona of Farmville or one of the other local girls?

Make reservations now for the whole family to attend Waterworks Players’ production of Cinderella. Performances are Friday (December 5th) at 7 pm, Saturday (December 6th) at 2 pm and 5 pm, and Sunday (December 7th) at 5 pm. Tickets are $5 for everyone, children, adults, and fairy godmothers. You can obtain tickets by calling the box office at 434-392-3452 or visiting the Waterworks web site: http://waterworksplayers.org.

And remember, whatever else you do, don’t touch the custard!