2013 celebrates the tenth Holiday Panto at People’s Light & Theatre Company (PLTC), Cinderella: A Musical Panto. I confess, I am new to the Holiday Panto at the People’s Light & Theatre Company, and I am disappointed that I have not seen any before this. Cinderella: A Musical Panto is fun, energetic, audience interactive, and uses digital media in a way that benefits the show. This show retells the classic tale of Cinderella, but puts in a few twists, and the result is a highly energetic show that is perfect for the entire family.

For those not familiar with a Panto, it is a British tradition during the holidays. According to People’s Light and Theatre Company, “The panto is a tradition borrowed from England, where almost every town has one during the holiday season. Pantos are a mix between a fractured fairy tale and a variety show, using familiar stories to form the basis for exaggeration, outstanding jokes, and rollicking songs and dances.” If you have never seen a panto, this is definitely a good one to start with. The show is a perfect way to introduce children to live theatre, and adults will also enjoy the show and the more subtle humor within the show.

Cinderella: A Musical Panto was written by Kathryn Peterson, who wrote seven of the holiday Panto’s at PLTC. In addition, the composer and lyricist for this show is Michael Ogborn. This version of Cinderella tells the traditional tale, but there are many twists. There are the basic elements that are familiar from the story: the ball, the glass slipper, Cinderella’s fairy godmother helping her get to the ball and of course a prince charming. This story differs in a number of ways, such as it takes place in the 1920s in Malvernistan. A young woman, Ella Opfinder, has lost her mother and finds that her father has remarried and she finds herself in a household with a cruel stepmother and two unbearable step-sisters. Of course, there is a prince, Prince Aidan of Sargasso, who is not sure he wants to be a prince. In addition, Ella is surrounded by animal friends, a rat, flea, cat and squirrel, who help her with chores as well as solving a mystery close to her heart. Cinderella: A Musical Panto is a show that is a unique retelling of this classic fairy tale.

Ella is played by Kim Carson, and she successfully portrays Ella’s kindness and innocence. Carson has a beautiful voice and exudes compassion which makes her perfect for this role. Mark Lazer plays Ella’s deceased mother, Hazel Opfinder (one of the elements of a panto involves  “the dame,” a man dressed as a woman.) Lazer is hilarious in this role, and adds a lot of personality to his character. Ella’s father, Oliver Opfinder, is portrayed by Tom Teti. He successfully depicts the comical easily duped father. Joilet Harris plays, Lucretia Loosestrife, the evil stepmother. Harris’s strong voice and bold stage presence accentuate this role. The stepsisters, Poisianna and Invasia, are portrayed by Susan McKey and Leah Poyo. These two actors “embrace their inner flapper” and are impeccable in the roles of the detested step-sisters. Ella’s animal friends: Tom Cat (Alex Bechtel), Sudsy Squirrel (Liz Fillios), Flea (Jillian Shea Spaeder) and Big Gus the Rat (Josh Totora) are incredibly animated and bring a sense of joviality to the show. Rounding out this phenomenal cast is Prince Aidan of Sargasso played by Jeffrey Coon and his valet, Barnaby, played by Christopher Patrick Mullen. Coon and Mullen are energetic, hilarious, and their vaudevillian routine throughout the production will have you in stitches. Cinderella: A Musical Panto is one of the funniest shows I have seen so far this season, and personally I will be sure not to miss another panto at the PLTC.

Cinderella: A Musical Panto is at the People’s Light & Theatre through January 12, 2014. For more information and ticket visit their website at peopleslight.org or call their box office at 610-644-3500.

Photos courtesy of People's Light and Theatre Company

Final Thought: Cinderella: A Musical Panto retells this classic tale, and audiences will love the twists and turns that come with this retelling. Do not miss the chance to see this hilarious show that has an outstanding and energetic cast.

Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online sites broadwayworld.com and figlancaster.com and is a freelance writer. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on twitter @theatrescribe and on Facebook/theatresensation.

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