The dictionary defines Pantomime as ‘a theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, which involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy, and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas.’ And that’s exactly what we experienced at the 2022 Derry Panto in the Millennium Forum.
With the world reopened and everyone back out enjoying theatre and more, this year more than ever, the Panto was going to be very welcomed and eagerly awaited right here in the North West.
I ventured in last Thursday night with my friend Joanne, teenager Anna and 8 year old Eilidh. It was to be Eilidh’s first Panto and her first theatre visit.
Panto is often associated with a childs first visit to theatre so Eilidh’s opinion was going to be very important to me on this night.
Written and produced by David McLaughlin and directed by Jonathan Burgess, the FairyTale was rewritten and it really did work. Cinderella featured no stepmother ( she had died), but a rather comic, carefree father. Playing with stories really should always be done, and it really does produce all sorts of fun. And that’s what we got with Cinderella in Derry. We got lots of fun.
Opening with the delightful Karen Hawthorne as the Fairy Godmother telling us the story to come. We also got to meet Buttons, aka Conal Gallen who made a very welcomed return to the Derry Panto this year.
A lovely friendship between the two continued throughout the show. Highlighting the importance of friendship in all our lives.
And it wasn’t long until we met them, yes them….the Uglies….Veruca Hardup and Lavinia Hardup, otherwise known as Keith Lynch and James Lecky. The lads really did do the show justice with their slapstick comedy and their outlandish outfits. One couldn’t help but love them. But of course the kids booed them throughout. Both lads entertained from beginning to end. Young and old enjoyed the two and they also portrayed a most widespread world problem; bullying.
It was the protrayal of such important themes that really won me over with this years Panto. A lot of the big songs were highlighting ‘Believing in the self’, and Cinderella herself sang about ‘Not being Silenced’. The Fairy Godmother continually reminded us that we must always believe in ourselves and that miracles really do happen. Our young people need reminding of all of these, always.
It was a tad magical as always watching the children excitedly shout at the Uglies, scream at Buttons, wave at Fairy Godmother and sing along with all. Little Eilidh with myself was in awe when the Fairy Godmother came up the aisle and waved to her. That’s what it’s all about.
My favourite scene was early on, ‘Edge of the Forest’. I really loved this with Chamberlain and Prince Charming, and of course Cinderella.
But the entry of that sparkling carriage and Casper drew a gasp from everyone. Like Conal Gallen, Casper is an old hand at the Panto craic!!! What an entrance this was.
Of course the grand finale with the wedding shone brightly. Golden wonder filled the stage.
It certainly was another Panto to get everyone into the festive spirit. With a wonderful cast filled with colour, song, comedy and some very important messages, it’s the annual ‘must-see’ at the Millennium Forum.
And of course 8 year old Eilidh’s feedback was of utmost importance – ‘it was great’. Result.
Once upon a time, a Panto was born. It was the Derry Panto. And you really should go see it.
The Pantomime runs until January 2nd. Contact the Box Office on 02871264455 or visit the website www.millenniumforum.co.uk/shows/cinderella-2/ to book your tickets today.