REVIEW: Cinderella, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until Dec 31 *****

Eve De Leon Allen’s Cinderella in the party scene in the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Cinderella. All pictures: Tony Bartholomew

ON the surface, and certainly from a cursory glance at the press release, this could be a conventional telling of Cinderella’s tale.

Except that this is the Brothers Grimm tale as re-spun by Nick Lane, with music and lyrics by Simon Slater, direction by Gemma Fairlie and stage & costume design by Helen Coyston. Namely the Scarborough team that thinks outside the box to deliver a Yorkshire winter show like no other.

This Cinderella is not pantomime, although slapstick, song-and-dance routines and colourful characters abound, complemented by a gorgeous transformation scene and a singalong Reach for The Stars (a panto staple country-wide).

Life in the fast Lane is inventive, inspired and ingenious, rooted in storytelling, physical comedy, multi role-playing, teamwork and individual flair in Fairlie’s fabulous, free-spirited cast.

Whitbelia’s regal family: David Fallon’s Flarf, with his beloved horse Malcolm, Lucy Keirl’s Delia and Roger Parkins’ Dean

Step forward, and never take a backward step, Eve De Leon Allen (Cinderella/Usher); David Fallon (Charming, Ratface, Flarf, Mouse); Lucy Keirl (Mandy, Delia, Herald); Roger Parkins (Delightful, Dad, Blob, Pumpkin, Dean) and Sarah Pearman (Chief Fairy, Mum, Filania, Frog).

Expect the unexpected with a Nick Lane story and he will still surprise you, while also reprising the hits from past SJT shows: the importance to the tale of Scarborough, its people, culture and seagulls; the digs at nearby places (Whitby’s goths and “inferior fish-and-chip shops”); the silliness yet the poignancy.

Prince Charming has made way for Charming, and there’s a character called Delightful too. The young prince, Flarf, is more interested in spending his days with his horse Malcolm (trained at DisMountview Academy, the programme biog states), rather than bride-finding parties.

Sister act: Roger Parkins’ Blob, left, and David Fallon’s Ratface

Cinderella’s stepsisters are outré fashionistas Ratface and Blob; the outstanding Keirl’s tooth fairy-in-training, 23780, wants to be known as Mandy.

De Leon Allen’s resourceful yet put-upon Cinderella is fixated on maps, and the love she seeks is not that of a “handsome Prince” but the embrace of her missing Mum, still alive she believes but lost to her in a storm when sailing to the magical Land Beyond Beyond, far, far away from Lane’s Scarbodoria and neighbouring Whitbelia.

Lane’s script has headed there too, far beyond routine panto, and anything but lost in such fresh storytelling, where he combines the golden olden with the modern, reinvigorating characters too, whether Cinderella, the prince or the Pumpkin (played by the chameleon Parkins, whose forgetful king is a gem too).

Eve De Leon Allen’s Cinderella andf Lucy Keirl’s Mandy

Fairlie’s cast have such fun with Lane’s flights of imagination, his extravagant, bold, lovable characters (yes, even the stepmother and self-deluded daughter double act); his fearless pushing of boundaries; his love of a joke; the need for mannequins or quick costume changes to keep up with the number of characters required for a scene.

Not least his radical retuning of Cinderella herself to today’s (feminist) sensibilities, delivered with a lightness of touch that is more impactful. She has always wanted to be an explorer, and in turn Lane explores new possibilities for her character.

Add Slater’s witty songs, a nod to The Wizard Of Oz, a notable decrease in Lane’s propensity to bottom-burp gags, and Cinderella is a breath of Scarbodoria fresh air to rival the North and South Bay.

“The most important thing is to be good,” concludes Fairy 23780, sorry, Mandy. A good point on which to finish a very good show. Box office: 01723 370541 or

Roger Parkins’ larger-than-life Pumpkin in Cinderella

Did you know?

NEXT year’s SJT “Chrtistmas Spectacular” will be Beauty And The Beast from December 1 to 30. Tickets are on sale already.