A quick search-engine-shuffle should reveal, to those who love to travel the inter-web-super-highway, a detailed history of the story of ‘Yen-Shen’ (9th century China) or ‘Cendrillion’ (1697 France) or ‘Aschenputtel’ (The Brothers Grimm) or ‘Cinderella’ as we in 21st century England know her.
It’s pantomime time, the season of gifts, goodwill, tipple and tinsel. Over in Sunny Donny, having unwrapped earlier in the year Cast – a brand spanking £22 million, 600-plus-seat theatre with dance studio, studio theatre and actor-friendly rehearsal room, they are now ripping the wrapping off a sparkling new production of Cinderella.
An interesting choice – surely a new regional theatre, built on the back of tireless enthusiasm from local amateur groups, local politicians and local folks in general, should be producing work that reflects local interests, local stories and local issues? As did The Glee Club, their first in-house professional production, written by Doncaster-born Richard Cameron.
Why the version of Cinderella I have rewritten in Donny? Why produce it anywhere for that matter? Here’s a look at the characters. See if you can guess.
Cinderella has lost her mother, is over-worked, bullied and isolated from the outside world. She talks to mice, believes in fairies and her only friend is a bloke dressed up like a Savoy Hotel bell-boy.
Her father, Baron Hardup, is skint, the love of his life has died, he’s married a second wife who hates him and has two step-daughters who, it has to be said, have issues. Cinders’ stepmother has lost her first husband leaving her alone to bring up the kids in a world where a woman on her own has no socio-economical mobility.
The girls (we’ll call them the Ugly Sisters) have lost their father, are living in a ruin of a house, are desperate to fit in with the local crowd, wear the right clothes and go to the right parties. Prince Charming, the local toff, is completely out of touch with the real world, suffers from paranoia and finds it difficult to make decisions. The only characters with any ounce of stability are Buttons and Dandini.
Even here Buttons ends up with his heart broken and Dandini is a refugee from a Rossini opera! Finally, thank the stars, there’s Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother who – appearing in some versions of the story as enchanted doves, at other times a wishing tree or in China as a magical fish – is always there right on cue, bringing good fortune. Her gifts are not unconditional but basically she’s a winning lottery ticket.
In these days when across the country the gap between haves and have-nots is growing ever wider, relative poverty on the rise and pressure to make-ends-meet near unbearable, a lot of us could do with a little TLC, a touch of luck, a Fairy Godmother. Of course I mustn’t forget it’s Christmas time and Christmas time means pantomime. So what this production of Cinderella is really about is Doncaster’s new theatre, Yorkshire’s newest theatre, Cast presenting a fun-filled homegrown, seasonal sensation that the good people of this wonderful town and region can enjoy and shout to the stars – we did this!
Cinderella runs from December 5-31 at Cast. Tickets from £13 are available on 01302 303 959 and castindoncaster.com