Pantomime troupe have a ball

SOPHIE SPEER
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012
Cinderella
ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ

You shall not go to the ball: Cinderella The Pantomime at Circa Theatre. The Ugly Sisters, Jon Pheloung, left and Gavin Rutherford with Cinderella, Chelsea Bognuda.

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The wigs are being teased, the makeup caked on and the satire sharpened: Roger Hall's annual pantomime is here.

Cinderella is getting a makeover in a new production, eight years after it was first performed at Circa Theatre.

All the favourites are there, from the beleaguered Cinders and lovable and helpful rodents to the rude and crude stepsisters, offering up laughs for children and adults alike.

Director Susan Wilson has been involved in the pantomimes since their inception, as have lighting technician Jennifer Lal, composer Michael Nicholas Williams and costume designer and lyric writer Paul Jenden.

Wilson says that is a testament to the fun the cast and crew have in performing the annual pantomimes.

Adults will be kept entertained with political commentary and satire, which will be updated throughout the performances to keep the jokes fresh and witty, she says.

Likely gags will include Kim Dotcom and John Key's "gay red shirt" debacle.

"You've got to be careful you don't over-balance the adult jokes," Wilson says.

"There's always got to be something going on for the kids. There's a certain style involved in pantomime. It's such a big tradition. So we have to keep within that."

Ugly stepsister Gavin Rutherford has been involved in the past four pantomimes - the last three dressed a woman.

This year he is joined by fellow stepsister Jon Pheloung, who says Rutherford required some help.

"It's like Batman and Robin: he needed a good-looking sidekick!" Pheloung says.

Rutherford says he enjoys the audience interaction allowed in pantomime.

"If somebody needs to go to the toilet during the pantomime, that's an opportunity for may- hem.

"Or if someone's had a bit to drink and laughs too loudly, we like to stop and make the most of these opportunities."

Rutherford also enjoys watching the young children's admiration for the heroes and heroines: in this case Cinderella and Prince Charming.

"They just hook on to them."

Wilson says pantomimes are a great way to get children involved in theatre.

"Hopefully it's something children will remember and will give them a love of theatre."

- Roger Hall's Cinderella: The Pantomime is on at Circa Theatre. It opens on November 17 and runs till December 23, and again from January 2 till 12. Tickets are $46 for adults and $15 for children, concessions and family passes available. Tickets are available from www.circa.co.nz

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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