‘Cinderella – A Traditional British Panto’ – at The British Players by Ellouise Schoettler

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Have a ball! Start the holidays with the laugh-filled family show –The British Players’ Cinderella, written by James Barry and directed with over-flowing humor by Charles Hoag.

Stephanie Santell (Cinderella) tries on the magic slipper. Photo by J. Andrew Simmons.

Stephanie Santell (Cinderella) and Allan Brown (Buttons). Photo by J. Andrew Simmons.

Cinderella is presented as a traditional British-style Panto (pantomime). It’s a slap-stick romp interpretation of a familiar fairytale. It’s a lot of fun and keeps you laughing. The children in the audience loved it and so did the grown-ups, and especially my friend who accompanied me to the show.

As a storyteller, I reveled in the way they toyed with the Cinderella story to give it several new dimensions of comedy and current meaning. We all love the British broad humor and this show is loaded with those laughs – all tastefully done just above the youngsters’  heads.

Albert Coia and Katie Brandeis’ spare and effective set, consisting of panels, sets the scenes in two venues – the Prince’s castle and Cinderella’s home, and leaves plenty of room for the large ensemble to dance and cavort. They outdid themselves with a knockout pumpkin coach to take Cinderella to the ball.

The large cast is well-rehearsed, multi-generational, and very appealing. Joan Roseboom ‘s  costumes are gorgeous and fun-filled with vivid colors and look like they are straight off the pages of a storybook.

Baroness and Baron Hardup (Michelle Hesse and John O'Leary). Photo by J. Andrew Simmons.

Baroness and Baron Hardup (Michelle Hessel and John O’Leary). Photo by J. Andrew Simmons.

There’s lots of audience participation as everyone is coached to hiss and boo loudly whenever the evil stepmother – Baroness  Hardup  (the outrageous Michelle Hessel) appears, or when anything threatens Cinderella. The children loved hissing and booing.

Cinderella is the lovely centerpiece needed to for the play. Stephanie Santell is a lovely Cinderella and her long blonde locks are just what they should be for an enchanting  princess-to-be. Claire Palace, dressed in cotton-candy pink,  is a delight as the Fairy Godmother who waves her wand and makes Cinderella’s dreams come true.

Allan Brown is terrific as Buttons, and he keeps the the action moving along, including encouraging the hissing and booing. The major comedy comes through the antics, jokes, and bantering of the ugly Stepsisters – Fifi and Fru-Fru – played broadly and expertly by two hefty guys – Colin Davies and Malcolm Edwards, wearing garish dresses. They are tons of fun!

From Left to right: Baroness Hardup(Michelle Hessel), Fifi, an ugly sister (Colin Davies), Prince Charming (Karina Gershowitz) and Fru-Fru, and another ugly sister (Malcolm Edwards). Photo by J. Andrew Simmons.

From Left to right: Baroness Hardup (Michelle Hessel), Fifi, an ugly sister (Colin Davies), Prince Charming (Karina Gershowitz) and Fru-Fru, and another ugly sister (Malcolm Edwards). Photo by J. Andrew Simmons.

The British Players present fine community theater where all the players have a grand time and so does the audience. As we left, I noticed that everyone was still smiling or laughing. I certainly was still laughing.

You still have time until December 22nd to slide on your slippers and make your way to Kensington Town Hall for The British Players’ entertaining and non-stop laugh-filled production of Cinderella. My advice is to take a child from 5 years-old and up with you along with your own inner-child. You will have a royal time!

Running Time: Approximately two hours, with one intermission.

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Cinderella plays through December 22, 2013 at the Kensington Town Hall – 3710 Mitchell Street, in Kensington, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (240) 447-9863, or purchase them online.

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