Honiton Community Theatre Company started out in 1984 as the Honiton Pantomime Society. Cinderella was the first production by Honiton Pantomime Society – performed in 1985 – and has been performed several times since then.
The company began only performing pantomimes once annually and in 2015 chose to have a go at putting on a musical too. Subsequent to the success of the musical, the name of the society was changed to fit the new direction it was going in. HCTC has continued to put on at least two shows a year, (one pantomime and one summer musical) showcasing the members passion and talents and giving opportunities to all members of the community to get involved and have a good time!
After reading a number of scripts for Cinderella, we chose to go for Jack Northcott’s one. His script appealed to us for a number of reasons, including the fact that we’ve performed a range of his pantomimes before. As well as this, the pace, humour and flexibility of his scripts are enjoyable both for cast members and for audiences – so they’re always a hit! We particularly enjoyed how modern his Cinderella was, with a nice balance between classic panto jokes and new ones. Jack was great to work with as usual and even helped us with some changes and additions to the script to suit us! As a creative team, we had to make a big decision to split our large junior chorus into two teams which would perform on alternate nights. Although this may not have been an ideal situation, Jack added in some scenes for us – in which the fairy godmother enlists the help of the forest animals and village children to keep an eye on Cinderella’s wicked stepmother – to make sure our talented young cast members had their chance to shine.
We really wanted our set to be special, since the story of Cinderella entails a lot of rich imagery; from the messy, dirty kitchen to the beautiful and extravagant ballroom. One thing we had to get right was Cinderella’s glittering ride to the ball: the pumpkin carriage. From the first drawing to the finished product we knew the carriage needed to stand out. In the end it had its centre stage moment in the act 1 finale, as Buttons and Fairy G. Sang to Cinders and made sure she would go to the ball! The silver and blue carriage was a frame around Cinderella as the audience clapped and cheered, before a blackout onstage left just the outline of the carriage in sparkly, silver fairy lights.
Another crucial part of Cinderella is keeping the magic alive for the audience throughout. Cinderella’s transformation made the closing of act 1 especially magical. We had many fantastic costumes made by our talented costume ladies but none quite like Cinderella’s gown; all shimmery fabric with a flowing skirt, perfect for a night at the ball – but it was the transformation which made this costume spectacular – with a tug and a twirl, Cinderella’s rags tumbled away as her ballgown was revealed!
Choosing songs for our panto was probably the trickiest part of the process, despite some useful suggestions in Jack Northcott’s script we were faced with quite a challenge. We settled for a mix of older and more modern songs, with well known party classics like Abba’s ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’, ‘Tik Tok’ By Ke$ha and even some songs from musicals. Both acts had to start with a bang and end on a high but what we looked for in all our song choices was something that would get the audience clapping, tapping, humming swaying or singing along!
There were many challenges and triumphs on the road to our Cinderella but most importantly our aim was to put together an enjoyable show for audience, cast and all involved, to keep the joys of theatre out there, inspiring others and to share the love that we have for it too!