Roger Hall’s CINDERELLA The Pantomime

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

02/01/2013 - 12/01/2013

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

17/11/2012 - 23/12/2012

Production Details

Written by Roger Hall
ongs by Paul Jenden and Michael Nicholas Williams
Directed by Susan Wilson
Musical Director: Michael Nicholas Williams

The perfect family treat!

A glittering, fairytale pantomime with dazzling costumes and lots of fun and laughter, Cinderella has it all.

Cinderella opens at CIRCA Theatre on Saturday 17th November at 8pm

Starring a fabulous Fairy Godmother, and two, hilarious dames – the sensational Ugly Sisters, a sweet Cinders, reluctant Prince Charming, a pumpkin coach and a happy-ever-after ending Cinderella is great fun for everyone.

In the best of panto traditions there are lots of topical jokes, comic antics, bright lively music, dazzling costumes and of course, plenty of opportunities for the audience to get involved and join the fun. CINDERELLA is a magical, musical treat that sparkles for young and old. It is the perfect way to celebrate the festive season.

“Fast-paced, lively and thoroughly enjoyable  – quite the best small-scale panto seen in Wellington since the glory days” – DomPost

 “Pantos are about fun … full of magic and music …. Go, laugh, spot the mice and sing the Pantomime Whirl – you know you want to!” – CapTimes

 “Surrounded by giggling kids, grinning parents and guffawing oldies, only the most killjoy of critics would have failed to have a good time” – Harry Ricketts, Listener

Starring a fabulous cast of – Lyndee-Jane Rutherford as Fairy Godmother, Gavin Rutherford and Jon Pheloung as the Ugly Sisters, Chelsea Bognuda, Richard Dey, Sean Allan, Paul Jenden, Emma Kinane with music maestro Michael Nicholas Williams, and costumes and choreography by Paul Jenden.


Circa Theatre 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington
17th NOVEMBER – 23rd DECEMBER 2012
2nd  – 12th JANUARY 2013

Performance times:
17th NOVEMBER – 23rd DECEMBER 2012
Tuesday to Thursday – 6.30pm
Friday & Saturday – 8pm
Sunday – 4pm
2nd – 12th JANUARY 2013
Tuesday , Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – 6.30pm
Sunday – 4pm

$25 PREVIEW – Friday 16th November – 8pm
$25 SUNDAY  SPECIAL – Sunday 18th November – 4pm

Prices:  $46  Adults;  $38  Students, Senior Citizens and Beneficiaries
$39  Groups (6+);  $25  Under 25s
$15  Children;  $107  Family Ticket – 2 adults plus 2 children

BOOKINGS  Circa Theatre  1 Taranaki Street, Wellington

Phone 801 7992

Fairy Godmother / The Queen:  LYNDEE-JANE RUTHERFORD
Father / The King:  JOHN WRAIGHT
Prince James:  RICHARD DEY

Costume Design PAUL JENDEN
Lighting Design JENNIFER LAL

Stage Manager:  Eric Gardiner
Technical Operator:  Matt Eller
Sound Consultant:  Oceania Audio
Choreography:  Paul Jenden
Sound:  Paul Stent, Susan Wilson
Costume Construction:  Paul Jenden
Publicity:  Claire Treloar
Graphic Design:  Rose Miller, Kraftwork
Photography:  Stephen A’Court
House Manager:  Suzanne Blackburn
Front of House:  Linda Wilson   

Theatre , Family , Children’s , Pantomime , Music ,

2hrs, incl. interval

Cinderella with modern twist lots of fun for all the family

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 19th Nov 2012

The opening and closing song ‘It’s A Pantomime World’ sums up beautifully Circa Theatre’s final main bill production of the year, Roger Hall’s Cinderella. 

The time-honoured story of poor Cinderella left alone while her two Ugly Sisters and Father go to the ball but how she goes anyway thanks to the ministrations of the Fairy Godmother is still at the heart of this pantomime.

However Hall has added much that is modern, such as the Fairy Godmother’s wand which is an iPhone, with many local Wellington references such as the Cuba Mall Bucket Fountain, the buses down Willis Street, the opening of the Hobbit movie and of course the Mayor and her bicycle.

The humour is broad, appealing to both young and old and there are many sight gags.  The mice especially are a very novel feature.

The songs also from Michael Nicholas Williams and Paul Jenden are light, bright and catchy and add much to the overall entertainment value of the show.

But it is the first rate cast, under the assured direction of seasoned director Susan Wilson, that brings the play alive, all decked out in some of the most wonderfully colourful costumes seen on stage in a long while, all created by Paul Jenden.

Acting as narrator as well as Fairy Godmother and Queen is Lyndee-Jane Rutherford.  In her element in these types of roles she performs will bucket loads of energy, has wonderful comic timing, sings beautifully and can even dance.

The roles of Bertha, Gavin Rutherford and Grace, Jon Pheloung, the two Ugly Sisters, are also played with great comic timing, the characters big and exaggerated but never coarse or over-the-top.  Doubling as Father and The King is John Wraight who brings a certain earthiness to the role. 

The young lovers of Cinderella and Prince James are played with endearing sincerity by Chelsea Bognuda and Richard Dey, Bognuda making her Cinderella a very modern girl but still maintaining the character’s innocence.  She also has a lovely singing voice which is used to great effect. 

The villain of the piece is Dan Dani, played with all the right nastiness by Sean Allan.

Assisting with the scene changes and completing the cast in the chorus numbers are Paul Jenden and Emma Kinane as Dagma and Schwen from Sweden.

This is a highly entertaining show, great fun for all the family.  


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A rattling good family show

Review by John Smythe 18th Nov 2012

There is a fresh feel about this Cinderella:  lively script, topical gags, gorgeous music, clever and bright costume-set-lighting designs, and strong characterisations from an exemplary cast who connect well with each other and their audience.

Since 2005, when Roger Hall and Circa first revived the end-of-year panto tradition, with Cinderella, the common denominators have been Hall, Susan Wilson (director), Michael Nicholas Williams (composer, musical director, live musician), Paul Jenden (lyricist, costume designer, choreographer, performing factotum) and Jennifer Lal (lighting designer). Jenden also designed the sets until John Hodgkins stepped in from last year, when the recycling and revamping began with Aladdin.

We can dub them ‘the dream team’ now. This year the pitch and tone feels ideal; ‘intimate spectacle’, we may call it. By my count, five of the nine-strong cast have done Hall-Circa pantos before and the newcomers come on board at just the right level for this venue.

As always the action is set locally, in Wellington, so ‘royalty’ is contrived with a corgi-cuddling Queen in residence at Government House alongside King John Key: a whimsical conceit that is readily accepted by the audience. The Hardup family – father Basil, his daughter Cinderella and her hideous step-sisters Bertha and Grace – live in a Miramar state house (which has risen astronomically in value, making them asset-rich but income-poor).

There’s a ‘post-modern’ touch to the script too, with a conscious knowingness about how the story is supposed to go and a determination on some people’s parts to change it, coupled with alarm from others at the derailing of established traditions. Crucially, the audience gets to share fully in this part of the game.

Setting the tone of genuine connection is Lyndee-Jane Rutherford’s Fairy Godmother, whose i-wand does not necessarily give her total power. Her control over the flow of the show, however, is perfectly pitched and paced, and her singing is fabulous.

Playing his third consecutive ‘dame’ with Circa (although he did first play a step-sister in a KidzStuff Cinderella in 2009), Gavin Rutherford’s Bertha is joined by Jon Pheloung as the other sister, Grace. They make an amiably flirty and bitchy pair, allowing us to love to hate them and vice versa. And this time, that’s just as it should be.

My concern seven years ago that they were not nearly nasty enough, which left us with no-one to boo (an essential ingredient in any panto), is assuaged this year by an excellent twist on past versions, as seen in Wellington anyway (Hall’s pantos play in other towns too). Dan Dini is no longer the Prince’s man-servant but a dodgy con man who hooks up with the itinerant back-packing Prince as he reluctantly flies home to his destiny (cue a splendid evocation of a turbulent landing in Wellington). His offer to swap roles is happily accepted up by the Prince, who takes a ‘real job’ as a waiter in a Cuba Mall café then at his own ball.

Rather than play it up large, Sean Allen (who played the Father and King in ’05), brings a well-centred malevolence to Dan Dini, which earns him many a boo and hiss. Bravo.

Richard Dey’s Prince James is as sincere and unpretentious as the day is long in summertime. It is in his waiter mode that the wilful Cinderella first sees him: cue delicious ‘love at first sight’ lighting and musical effects (yes, the romance is retained).

Chelsea Bognuda embodies, with flair, Cinderella’s determination not to be a victim, expressed in a wonderfully strong singing voice. Intent on seeing the world and having adventures rather than marrying some rich guy to elevate the family’s fiscal fortunes, [spoiler alert?] she ends up having it all, of course.

Her father, Basil, who proudly wears his Gold Card on his lapel and who has an ongoing relationship with fish in his quest to alleviate his creaky joints, is splendidly played by John Wraight, who is even more delightful as King John Key. His lapses into ‘Jonkeydledegoop’ are spot on.

A nod and a wink is all we need to accept Lyndee-Jane Rutherford’s slipping into the Queen role, with imperious poise, and back again, although in the multiple wedding scene finale her transformation is complete.

This time round, the Fairy Godmother’s assistants are a couple of Scandinavian back-packers from Dannevirke. Emma Kinnane’s Dagmar is robustly voluble while Paul Jenden’s inarticulate Schwen is the picture of poetic melancholy, made especially poignant by his inability to propose to her.  

Rat puppets and a couple of surprises from the buffet table add to the fun, thanks in part to the unseen hand of stage manager Eric Gardiner. Working wonderfully as an ensemble, the entire company ensures a rattling good family show.  


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