Once again Orpheus rose to the challenge of staging another blockbuster just as they have been doing in their shows of recent times. Huge credit for this has to go to director Rachel Martin and her dedicated team. This season’s production of the pantomime Cindy on December 17th at Woldingham School was no exception.

The rich versus poor theme of the traditional tale of Cinderella was given a clever twist by setting it in the nineteen eighties. It began with a serious, punchy reminder of the controversial cuts of the Thatcher years. This was created strongly with Charlie Hatton’s unaccompanied singing of Billy Bragg’s “There is power in a union” followed by the entry of actors with banners protesting about the mine closures and the stopping of free milk. Then suddenly the mood was changed and the stage was filled with colour as in came the singers and dancers to herald the beginning of the fun-filled pantomime.

Throughout all the subsequent scenes the action was accompanied by the skilful band led by their director Stephen Wrigley who played their own cover versions of songs of the period. The set design consisted of eye-catching artwork by the students which was cleverly projected on to the backcloth, constantly changing to match the changes of scene. Great credit must go to them and to the efficient team operating this in addition to the lighting and sound. The dance group under the direction of Imogen Butler and team were superb and uplifted every scene in which they appeared. The wonderful costumes by the skilled wardrobe team were colourful and fun.

Like all good pantomimes, there was plenty of humour and the opportunity for the audience to cheer the heroes and boo the baddies with even further audience participation with a karaoke scene in the second half ably led by Sue Allen as The Duchess. The actors themselves also provided the laughs with their comic characterisations. These included Charlie Hatton as Buttons and of course the ugly sisters, aptly named for the period, Banana and Rama! They were played with aplomb by Kav Wilson and Robin Dixon. A nice touch was to depict the King as a cockney “wide boy”, played by Joss Perring. Tyler Clifton as Prince Charming and Annabel lnskip as his Dandini worked well together and Georgia Fitzsimmons as Cindy charmed us from the start. She conveyed a sweet presence and convinced us with both her sadness and joy in equal measure.

Every show has a stand-out moment and for me it was the stunning rendering of an eighties’ number one hit “Time after Time”. This was sung as a duet by two members of the band Lauren Masser and Di Livyo Larosee and exquisitely danced to by Andrew Self and Blythe Hood in an arrangement with beautiful instrumental backing.

Time after time Orpheus manages to surprise and charm us all.

Ann Lovelace