Cinderella will be looking for her Prince Charming in Harpenden this panto season

PUBLISHED: 13:00 11 August 2016

The cast of Harpenden's panto Cinderella

The cast of Harpenden's panto Cinderella

Archant

Look out ahead of you - pantomime time is closer than you think.

And this year Harpenden Public Halls is hosting that most popular of pantos - Cinderella.

With its cast of the Ugly Sisters, a handsome Prince, the downtrodden Cinders, her faithful friend Buttons and not forgetting the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella always proves a draw for children and adults alike.

And this year promises to be no exception with the cast already announced - and happy to dress up in costume - ready for the pantomime which runs from December 10 to December 22.

It is the first time that director Chris Law, of Act One Pantomimes, has put on Cinderella and he has invited old and new cast members to take part in a show which goes into rehearsal at the end of September and will open pre-Christmas with around seven full rehearsals on the stage of the Public Halls.

Chris has written the scripts for all the pantos he has produced there in the past seven years and in December he will be strutting his stuff as Baron Hardup. “I am always in it because otherwise I get bored,” he explained.

The only question mark at this stage is whether or not to have a white Shetland pony on stage to pull Cinderella’s coach. At least he does not have to try and train it himself - professional companies provide fully-trained animals for shows - but Chris will need to find somewhere to stable the pony if he decides to use the real thing rather than a mechanical alternative.

Chris is delighted with his cast - several of whom are making a return visit to the Public Halls stage.

Steve Leeds from Go! Go! Go! on Nick Jr proved such a success when he appeared in Snow White two years ago that he is coming back to play Prince Charming. His appearance as the prince in Snow White was a huge hit with the audience with Chris describing him as ‘popular with everyone from chorus girls to the audience.”

He added: “I just wanted to work with him again and got in touch. He did Cinderella last year in Southend where he appeared as Dandini with Brian Connolly and Lesley Joseph.”

Another children’s favourite takes the role of Buttons - Hi-5’s Luke Roberts who can be seen daily on CITV and Cartoonita. “He is very personable and young and will be great with the kids,” Chris said.

Taking the title role of Cinderella herself will be Honey Fine who was part of the close harmony group Mon Amie who reached the 6 Chair Challenge on the X Factor last year.

Mon Amie supported Jason Donovan on his UK-wide greatest hits tour last year and Honey, who hails from Herts, is going it alone as the girl whose foot fits the glass slipper.

Two sets of feet that definitely won’t be able to squeeze into saud slipper are those of BBC 3 Counties Radio’s Ernie Almond and professional St Albans actor Simon Nicholas who are taking the roles of the Ugly Sisters. Simon took the role of Widow Twankey in Aladdin last year and Ernie has been a regular in the past four pantomimes.

In fact it was as a result of his reminiscences about a one-time panto at the Public Halls which led Chris to approach the venue operators to gauge their interest in reviving panto there.

Fairy Godmother Jess Robinson promises to bring a new dimension to the role. She hails from North London and is a musical impressionist who is currently appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe. She is the voice of CBBC’s Horrible Histories and voices multiple characters on Dreamworks’ new production of Noddy.

Completing the cast is actor Andrew Willis as Dandini and, for the third year in succession, children from The Dance Studio taking chorus parts.

With the growing popularity of panto at the Public Halls, one might expect Chris to be casting his net around for bigger venues but he is having none of it. He enjoys a good working relationship with Glenn Povey, general manager of the venue, and while he accepts that the Public Halls has its limitations, “we know what they are and we can work with them.”

And there is another reason why he stays loyal to the 400-seater theatre - ‘Harpenden is a very nice town’ he said simply.

Tickets for Cinderella are on sale already and some performances are expected to sell out early. To book go to the box office on 01582 767525 or click here.

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