Burgess Hill Theatre Club presents a lively, witty and colourful panto

Dames David Abbott and Don Stewart cast a spell. Picture by Phil Dennett
Dames David Abbott and Don Stewart cast a spell. Picture by Phil Dennett

Cinderella, Burgess Hill Theatre Club, Martlets Hall, until January 27

Director Suzi Allan has cooked up a corker as Burgess Hill Theatre Club stages its last pantomime at the doomed Martlets Hall.

The cast at the curtain. Picture by Phil Dennett

The cast at the curtain. Picture by Phil Dennett

As a fitting finale to the venue this is one of the club’s finest in a long tradition of excellent productions.

The club, which might be forgiven for feeling bitter about the forthcoming destruction of the hall with no suitable replacement, goes pretty easy on Mid Sussex District Council, which it seems did not think it viable to give a rapidly growing town a proper civic and entertainments centre. It appears to be the true villain of the piece, but on stage the direct reference is reserved for the developers.

When Baron Hard-Up (Des Fitzpatrick) pleads poverty to Buttons (Matt Roberts), Buttons quips: “Have you tried New River Retail? They’ve got loads of money.”

Not enough, it seems, to provide Burgess Hill with the civic and entertainments hall a fast-growing town deserves.

The panto has everything you could wish for: an excellent band, attractive sets, pretty songs, charming dancing and a cast where everyone is committed to doing their best. The result is a panto of wit, slapstick, pace and colour to make that first half fly by and simply gobble up the second session.

The core of the excellent quality is a quartet of characters that command attention whenever they appear on stage. Matt Roberts is a wise-cracking ball of fire, Megan Roberts a loudly domineering Baroness Hard-Up, and the Hard-Up sisters, David Abbott as Trash and Don Stewart as Trish, are simply superb at holding the audience’s attention. Ellen Hinton (Prince Charming) and Stephanie Somerville (Dandini) are suitably warm-hearted, while Sophie Davies still looks beautiful in rags as Cinderella. Julia Peckham’s granddaughters will be loving her magic sparkle as Fairy Godmother. You could list the whole cast for honours.

The club’s hunt for somewhere to stage future pantomimes begins when this run ends, with suggested plans for a community-cum-arts centre at Cyprus Road, still not certain and in any event a few years away.

But if you want to see what Burgess Hill might be missing for a while this engaging pantomime is just the ticket.

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