- The Forge
Your favourite fairy tale boldly goes into outer space!
Our interstellar Cinderella is forced to clean the space station – even though she would rather be building awesome robots. The evil Captain Step Mummy won’t even let her go to the biggest party in the universe!
Will Cinderella get help from the planet Godmotheria? Can a pumpkin really turn into a spaceship? Will the space boot fit her foot?
Find out in the most imaginative and hilarious retelling of this classic tale yet!
Approximate running time: 50 minutes, no interval
A relaxed performance will be held on Saturday 29th April, 1pm. A relaxed performance pack can be found here.
Kathleen Burns and Dan Bain’s team have hatched a winner. This is no jaded rehash of the fairy tale, no makeshift adaptation of the mainstage set, with approximations of the downtrodden Ashputtel and her sentimental journey. Rather, we are given a refreshingly inventive and immaculately presented piece of thoroughly engaging Sci-fi with a heroine who can wield a spanner as well as sing, dance and think for herself.
There are enough familiar checkpoints along the way to keep things recognisable. Cinderella is a slave mechanic forced to work on the engine of a mighty craft in space after her evil stepmother has seized control, with plans not to foster intergalactic peace but to rule the galaxy by dastardly whim.
There’s a prince (complete with purple gear and rock dancing of course), a party to find him a queen and a whole planet of pumpkins as well as an appropriately digitalised clock. Here, the godmother is an undercover agent, supplying Cinderella with gear and special dancing boots to equip her on a quest to prevent the prince from passing his all-powerful ring into the hands of that stepmother villainess.
Thus spiked, the whole show hums along with plenty of laughs, characters to relish and surprises of the good sort. Audience participation is always a risky element in children’s theatre, but so strongly are various predicaments established that the voice of the young fry is genuinely impassioned and feet are offered freely for that climactic boot fitting.
The cast of three are in total control of their delicious roles. Monique Clemenston cuts a dash as the feisty fix-it heroine, full of can-do and resolve. The usurping Captain Step-Mummy brings the welcome return to Christchurch theatre of greatly talented Ralph McCubbin Howell. And playing all the rest – that is Prince, Fairy Godmother and a host of Expendables in thrall to the evil Captain – is seriously versatile Simon Leary.
Their work is supported by excellence in production values rarely seen in holiday productions. Hayley Douglas has had great fun with costume design. Nigel Kerr’s entertaining set together with wonderfully effective whizz bangs from Giles Tanner (lighting) and Andrew Todd (sound) add up to a first class show. Stellar indeed.
– Reviewed by Lindsay Clark for Theatreview
Court Theatre holiday fare Cinderella in Space a stellar pint-sized panto romp
Kids and space – it’s a universally cool combo. Cinderella in Space is the latest holiday production from the Court Theatre and, as usual, it’s exceptionally good value. With a versatile cast of three, an original script – written by actor turned playwright Kathleen Burns – and fun special effects, plus a cool set and clever props, directed by the Court’s new associate director Dan Bain, this pint-sized play has plenty going for it.
The plot is stripped back for the almost one-hour duration of the stellar romp. There are no ugly sisters, but you don’t need to know Cinderella’s story for both boys and girls to enjoy this professional panto. Indeed, a mum in the next row mentioned that her two young boys didn’t actually know the Cinderella story.
No matter. In this iteration, spaceship engineer Cinderella (Monique Clementson, fresh from her debut in Legally Blonde) is tormented and enslaved by her airlock-obsessed Captain Stepmummy (Ralph McCubbin Howell, doing the pantomime Twankey thing exceptionally well). Captain Stepmummy’s favourite method of dealing with people is chucking them out the airlock for a long space walk with no spacesuit.
When the lonely Prince of Space (Simon Leary, in his Court debut) decides he needs to find a girlfriend who can fix things and help him reign, the race is on for Cinders and the Captain to woo him with the best dance moves. Luckily, Cinderella discovers a nifty device for summoning a Fairy Godparent (also Simon Leary) who gives her a quick costume change and some groovy silver-sequined space boots that are programmed to dance til midnight.
Austin Powers crossed with the late great Prince, the Space Prince turns up late in the one-hour romp sporting a garish ring that’s the prize for his future space queen. Cue the obligatory Beyoncé lyric about putting a ring on it.
Many old English pantomime conventions are respected here, from audience participation to cross-dressing to fairy godmothers. Yes, we actually yelled “behind you!” at a crucial moment.
Less successful was the double entendre, which usually involves wringing adult innuendo out of innocent phrases.
Some of the jokes aimed at adults will indeed fly over the kids’ heads and into a galaxy far, far away. The name of the spaceship, for example is Millennial Entitled (which few of the audience will be). Made up almost entirely of young children and women – mums, aunts, nannies and grannies – the audience is invited to join the song-and-dance routine whose entire lyrics consist of: “Shake Uranus, shake shake Uranus”. Not exactly subtle. My child reviewers’ grandmother did not approve.
Of course, as all Dr Who fans know, even under comedy sci-fi logic, no-one actually lives in space as that’s an airless vacuum (hence the play’s chucking-people-out-the-airlock device). So the Prince of Space hasn’t got much of a principality. Likewise ‘EVA’ is an acronym from the golden era of space walks for ‘Extravehicular Activity’, which is rarely heard these days except in the most astrophysical of company. Used in the song lyrics, it’s not something most people will know.
Perhaps the show was aimed a little too high for its target audience, as young children are also unlikely to know such words as “nepotism” while Trekkie tropes like the Red Shirted crewmen (all played Simon Leary) being utterly disposable and interchangeable, will work best for space geeks.
However, my reviewing assistants Felicity, aged four, and eight-year-old Theo’s favourite bit was when the Red-Shirted Expendables were sucked into space through the airlock, but that was largely down to comic timing and miming.
Clever staging included an adaptable rotating set, good use of screens and the previous production’s light-up floor and wearable space shuttles that look like shoes.
Amid well-choreographed dance scenes, the singing was a little flat, but you’ll likely leave with children singing “shake shake Uranus”. Whether you think that is a good thing is up to you or granny…
– Reviewed by Margaret Agnew for What’s Up NZ