Cinderella in the age of the i-Wand

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 14:38 14/11/2012
Cinderella
STEPHEN A’COURT
Show-stoppers: Lyndee-Jane Rutherford as the fairy godmother and Gavin Rutherford as one of the ugly stepsisters in Roger Hall’s Cinderella the Pantomime.

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The Wellingtonian

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Will Cinderella get her man? Will the ugly stepsisters get a date with a local? Will the fairy godmother's i-wand work?

Roger Hall's Cinderella the Pantomime was originally performed in Auckland in 1978. It was re-written for its first season at Circa in 2005.

Now the pantomime has been redeveloped further and has a modern twist complete with i-wands, princely walkabouts and up-to-date political satire.

Lyndee-Jane Rutherford, who plays the fairy godmother, said pantomimes were a popular form of theatre in Wellington.

"It's traditionally a British form of theatre, but Circa has been doing it for eight years, so Wellington audiences have come to expect it," she said.

"They come knowing the running gags, like they will have to scream out, ‘He's behind you'.

"They also know we've developed the local gags that we do every year. So they're expecting things like there will be a poor, lonely widow."

In the past five years more then 43,000 people have gone to the 240-seat theatre to watch Hall's pantomimes.

Lyndee-Jane said the new Cinderella script was very different to the 2005 season version.

"It's a really great script. The actors are just thrilled with it. It just zips along," she said.

"It's really modern, even though it's a classic. I mean, I have an i-wand.

"It's all set in Wellington. So we have the prince doing a walkabout in Cuba St, which is ironic because Prince Charles was actually doing a walk down on the waterfront."

She said her favourite part of the show was the end of act one.

"I love it when I am i-wanding away and making everything happen for Cinderella. It's a really magical part of the show, with the horses and the coach and we have live mice on stage."

Gavin Rutherford, who plays ugly stepsister Bertha Hardup, said his favourite part was talking directly to the audience.

"There's none of this pretending that they're [the audience] not there," he said.

"If you're in a scene where you're sitting in a cafe in Cuba St and somebody in the audience says something, then they're sitting there with you.

"You have to keep a much larger proportion of your brain listening to the audience, feeding them, teasing them, and they tease you back.

"As ugly stepsisters we are the dames who find someone in the audience we are attracted to and go up to them. As there's two of us doing that in this show it's even more imposing."

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A feature of Hall's pantomimes is the political satire.

"There are a lot of generic political gags, which people have come to know and love," Gavin said.

"Then there's definite room for an insert-local-content-here kind of thing. Anything that's in the news can be jammed right in there.

"It's great when you're working with other actors who are into that. Thinking we need to put something else in - John Key has said something else stupid - what can we do with that?"

- Cinderella the Pantomime, Circa Theatre, November 17 till January 12.

- The Wellingtonian

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