With rehearsals for this year's pantomime Cinderella underway writer, director and co-producer Peter Duncan tells us more about what to expect from this year's magical production ...
It’s Cinderella supercharged – the classic story of a true love that’s as fit for a prince as a pauper, but souped up with ponies, tap dancing, opera singing and an iconic 1980s sitcom character.
Lighthouse is ready to reveal a brand new Cinderella created specially for Poole by Peter Duncan who with his co-producer Darren Reeves is pulling out all the stops to follow up the success of their Aladdin last year with an even bigger box office smash.
“We like to cast pantos in a way that is interesting and then use the particular talents of the cast and incorporate them in the show,’ explains the former Blue Peter presenter and Chief Scout.
“For example, Lucy Kay from Britain’s Got Talent, she is an actress but was originally an opera singer so, not that Cinderella will become an opera, but we will certainly include an element of that. And Richard Gibson as Baron Hardup is an old friend who played Herr Flick in ’Allo ’Allo – this iconic character in what was the top sitcom for years and years so we’ll bring element of that in.
“The we’ve got two actors who are really good tap dancers playing the Prince and Dandini, so we’ll do Ed Sheeran’s Castles in the Air song and turn it into a tap extravaganza.”
And what of the ponies, Peter?
“Yes, there are real, live ponies… live ponies!” he exclaims, clapping his hands in delight. “I mean I’m only the producer, I don’t deal with any of the mechanics of it at all. I can tell you they’re going to live off-site – the Chief Executive is going to look after them. She’s going to take them to her house and bring them in every day… because she wanted ponies, she’s got them!”
All of which is Peter’s way of explaining how it’s possible to take a tried and tested story like Cinderella and find something new in it.
“All these panto fables have a kind of structure to them, but the joy of doing them again is that often you can pick up on a degree of contemporary song and culture which you can cleverly adapt to give it a sense of something current.
“In Poole we have to be distinctive from Bournemouth, which is only down the road so because as producers Darren and I have only got the one show to put on this Christmas we can put lots of craft into it, whereas I think for panto producers who have lots of shows to do it’s very hard to have that attention to detail.
“Poole has that reputation – if you’re generic and do the same thing every year you can say it’s going to work, but when you are creatively adventurous it’s more rewarding to get to the point you want to get to.”
Peter also has a new twist on another panto staple – the ultra violet light scene – up his sleeve and a few little plot twists that audiences will take to their hearts, he hopes.
“I was watching an extraordinary programme about a girl that could play the piano before she could read and write, which just shows what can happen when you take young people, teach them at home and allow the imagination to fly.
“She has done a version of Cinderella and she had a brilliant idea where she has a song that only the prince and Cinderella would know so when one sang the melody to the other they knew they were destined for each other. What a great idea – I don’t know quite how, but I‘m definitely going to steal it!”