Six years had elapsed since the last pantomime written, directed and produced by Penny Partgiter, and for most people this was far to long an interregnum. However it was accepted that it took an enormous amount of effort to produce a show to the standard she had set for herself. The news of a production of Cinderella, planned for the spring of 2004, was therefore received with a great sense of expectation.
The end result, which was performed four times between the 25th and 27th of March, was enormously successful, with every seat at every performance sold. Delighted audiences spread the word that this was the best yet!
Below is a reproduction of the review that was published in the Chard and Ilminster Gazette during the week following the pantomime, together with a photograph of the cast taken by Dave Wheadon, which are published with their kind permission.
PANTOMIME isn't an annual event in Winsham, but if last week's offering of 'Cinderella' is anything to go by, more's the pity.
Sticking to the story, it was enlivened considerably by a certain amount of sophistication not usually expected in this form of 'family entertainment'. The play - written, produced and directed by Penny Pargiter - featured Buttons as a faithful Dalmation, and once one accepted the challenge to tradition, the ugly sisters were given a really hard time with the 'animal' snapping effectively at their feet, but still being a faithful and caring hound to Cinders.
Over the years, I have seen a number of lacklustre Buttons, and on that score I could envisage circumstances where I might well have preferred the animal version.
I have long harboured a wish to see a Fairy Queen that gave us less of the goody-goody and a bit more glamour - my wish was fulfilled.
With overtones of Hermione Gingold of yesteryear, Meg Terrett was something different. With her outrageous costume and beautifully delivered asides to the audience, I half expected her to light up a fag after she had got Cinders off to the ball.
There was also a wonderful running joke. Something with no relevance to the plot whatsoever but gaining increasing interest as the action continues. In this instance it was an aged and doddery courtier carrying a large jelly on a tray, coming and going and finally falling on his face and scarping it up with a spoon. It is that sort of thing that can enliven the proceedings.
There is in Winsham someone who is a dab hand at painting scenery and creating impressions of depth and height. With such a small stage, space is at a premium and John Houston masterminded a series of sets that were appropriate and colourful.
Some 15 people were responsible for the costumes and this was a case of quality matching quantity. Colourful and outrageous where necessary, the cast were well served by the sewing brigade.
Sally Harper and Lucy Weller were the love interest, backed up by their respective family and hangers-on who contributed to the general mayhem and misunderstanding when required.
The principal contributors to all this were the ugly sisters. Buttercup and Hiccup, thereby ensuring that the pace didn't flag and that the audience got their fair share of participation, although they needed little encouragement.
An evening with a difference; they might not have had a panto in Winsham for six years but do we really have to wait so long for the next one?
To rephrase the old television commercial, this was a show that reached the parts other pantos don't reach.