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3-Adellene-Fitzsimmons-as-Cinderella-Risa-Craig-as-Stepsister-Joy-Holly-Ross-as-Stepsister-Grace.-Photo-by-Donna-Larkin

Stepsisters steal the show at Cinderella

Amanda Whitley

Let’s just put this out there before we go any further…I’m no theatre critic. I don’t have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the stage, nor any particular skills in critique. But I do know what I like…and, when it comes to kids’ theatre, so do my two girls, aged six and eight years.

We were first introduced to the joys of local theatre company Ickle Pickle Productions last year, and when the news hit my desk that they were to stage  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, it was hard to tell if the kids or I were more excited. Because this really is local talent at its best, featuring a cast of nearly 40 experienced adult and child performers.

Originally a major television event in 1957 featuring Julie Andrews, the production is based upon the fairy tale Cinderella, particularly the French version Cendrillon, ou la Petite Pantoufle de Verre, by Charles Perrault. And while the story is undoubtedly familiar, this is a very different Cinderella. Forget hearts and flowers (although there is some romance), this is an hilarious retelling of the timeless story, directed by Hannah McFadden and Justin Watson.

Adellene Fitzsimmons as Cinderella, Risa Craig as Stepsister Joy, Holly Ross as Stepsister Grace. Photo by Donna Larkin.

Adellene Fitzsimmons as Cinderella, Risa Craig as Stepsister Joy, Holly Ross as Stepsister Grace. Photo by Donna Larkin.

There are a few shining lights amongst a talented sea of performers, including the two leads who both gave strong performances as the ‘straight guys’. However, it was the supporting characters who got the best lines.

Amy Jenkins, as Stepmother, has an undeniable presence, commanding attention from the moment she stepped on stage. Her haughty social climber was responsible for my biggest laugh of the show, and the only thing I wish she’d had more of a chance to do was sing. If you’ve ever caught Amy with her Kaleid bandmates Kirrah Amosa and Jacqui Douglas, you’ll understand why. 

Experienced Ickle Pickle performer, Ben Hardy, was irresistible as Lionel, the Royal Steward. His confident, enthusiastic performance showed great comedic timing and won him many fans and loud applause at the end of the show.

But it was Risa Craig and Holly Rose, as Stepsisters Grace and Joy, who stole the show. Both performers obviously relished the chance to play with their characters, and gave them wonderful, individual personalities as the bickering stepsisters vying for the prince’s affection. Stepsister Grace’s jerky flailing movements and snorting laughter, and Stepsister Joy’s ditzy itching, and – particularly, an hilarious dance sequence at the ball – had us uncontrollably giggling every time they appeared.

Risa Craig as Stepsister Joy, Adellene Fitzsimmons as Cinderella, Holly Ross as Stepsister Grace. Photo by Donnal Larkin.

Risa Craig as Stepsister Joy, Adellene Fitzsimmons as Cinderella, Holly Ross as Stepsister Grace. Photo by Donnal Larkin.

The bottom line: the acting was great; the singing was pretty good, too; and the production was high quality (the carriage itself is a thing of beauty). And now being an Ickle Pickle ‘veteran’, it was great to see familiar faces in the cast.

Do yourself a favour – take the kids along (if you don’t have any, just borrow some or just go yourself) – this is a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

A practical note for parents. At nearly two hours (including intermission) and with loads of musical numbers, it requires a fairly solid attention span. Some of the preschoolers in the audience had reached the end of their patience a handful of songs before the closing number, while my girls were very engaged. I wouldn’t recommend the production for kids younger than primary school age, but those aged about five and over will love it.

the essentials

What: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
When: Various matinee and evening sessions until Saturday 24 January 2015
Where: Belconnen Theatre, Swanston Court, Belconnen
How much: $22.50 (child, concession, groups of 4+) or $26 for adults
Tickets: Buy online from Canberra Ticketing

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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