Waterworks Players proudly presents the pantomime Cinderella to celebrate the holiday season. Beloved by children and adults alike, pantomimes are as much a part of Christmas throughout the British Isles as singing carols, trimming the tree, and exchanging presents.
As a popular form of theatre, “Pantomimes are melodramatic presentations of familiar nursery rhymes or children’s tales that combine song, dance, and slapstick comedy,” states Mary Jo Stockton, who grew up in Scotland and directs this production. “At home they are called pantomimes, but it’s not the same as a mime,” says Stockton. “You get the story with a twist. Every family goes to pantomimes.”
“Part of the magic of pantomime,” says Stockton, “is the audience participation.” Everyone is encouraged to “Boo” the villain and sing along with cast members. This can lead to friendly audience competition as half of the audience tries to sing their chorus louder than the other. In some productions the story villain will squirt the audience with water guns, while other cast members might throw candy to children.
Eight years ago, Waterworks presented its first pantomime, Puss In Boots. “We weren’t sure how the community would react,” said Waterworks Players’ artistic director Dudley Sauve. “Although the panto tradition is strong in the British Isles, we didn’t know if an American audience would catch the humor or know how to get involved in the show.” This concern was short lived as within minutes from the opening the kids quickly connected with the actors as if they had grown up with it. Likewise, adults had a wonderful time laughing at the double-meaning of the punch lines.
So successful was that first run that Waterworks Players has made the pantomime an annual tradition. “In the middle of summer I now have people asking me on the street what this year’s panto will be,” chuckles Sauve. “Everyone looks forward to the show, including the actors,” quickly adds Stockton.
Waterworks’ production of Cinderella finds the young Prince Charming (Greg Tsigaridas) a lonely heart, unable to find his true love. Always trying to help, the Prince’s loyal valet Dandini (Jess Baul) proposes that a ball would provide the perfect opportunity to select a bride from all eligible Farmville girls. Cinderella (Sherri Davenport) is banned by her ugly sisters Hyacinth (Jordan Whiley) and Lowercinth (Don Blaheta) and cruel stepmother (Patricia Schmidt) from attending the grand event, but her fairy godmother (Kathleen Lilly) intervenes. With the wave of a wand, Cinderella’s worn rags are transformed into a beautiful gown while a pumpkin is turned into a coach driven by her pet mouse (Eva Gee). Cinderella and the Prince fall in love, but Cinderella is forced to leave before midnight when the magic disappears. To find out if the Prince is able to find his true love, you must attend the production and join the story.
The cast also includes an ensemble of memorable characters including Cinderella’s best friend Buttons (Ross Baldwin), Cinderella’s father Baron Hardup (Bill Thomson), a demanding ballet instructor Madame Olga (Pam Wright), town bankers Rough (Matt Beachy) and Ready (Katherine Lusk), a cohort of supernatural sprites (Andra Henke, Josephine Hemmer, Sylvia Hemmer, and Callyn Vogel), and a crew of villagers (Abbey Henry, Audrey Gee, Phillip Sadler, Sean Stockton, Autumn Shook, and Dustin Cordell).
Don’t be late for the ball. 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 2 pm and 5 pm. Tickets are $5 for everyone. You can obtain tickets by calling the box office at 434-392-3452 or visiting the Waterworks web site where you can choose your seats: https://waterworksplayers.org.