NEXT week, the Rotherfield Players put on their performance of Cinderella from Thursday to Sunday. The theatre troupe’s Artistic Director, Derek Holland, tells the Times all about the group, and why they chose this classic pantomime tale…
How did the Rotherfield Players begin?
We’ve been going for over 40 years. In December 1975, Alison Organ was asked to direct The Happiest Day of Your Life to raise money for Oxfam. The cast enjoyed it so much that the following December they performed The Diary of Anne Frank, and so
The Rotherfi eld Players troupe was born. I’m
pleased to say Alison is still a very active member.
How often are your shows?
We do a pantomime after Christmas, a spring play or musical, and an autumn one. Our fourth production is an outdoor one, staged each summer. We firstly perform in the gardens of The Kings Arms, Rotherfield, and then go on to the Noah’s Ark at Lurgashall near Petworth. Our next summer production will be William Wycherley’s restoration comedy A Country Wife.
Why did you decide to do a panto in January?
This was done initially because it proved difficult to get enough rehearsal time after our autumn production. It then became clear this time was very popular with our audience. There is always an anti-climax after all the activities in December, and so families like something to look forward to in the dark days of January.
Why did you choose Cinderella?
I’ve always liked Cinderella ever since I played one of the Ugly Sisters back in 1982 in Southborough’s Royal Victoria Hall. It has everything you could wish for – a lovely girl meets handsome prince story, Fairy Godmother magic, two pantomime villains in the
guise of the Ugly Sisters, and Buttons, who glues it all together and helps guarantee a happy ending.
What might audiences enjoy most about it?
Firstly, we aim our show at the children. Parents tend to laugh when their children laugh. They also love the slapstick and the audience participation. They ought to come away hoarse after shouting: ‘It’s behind you’ or ‘oh no you won’t’!
When did you start to put the show together?
I started planning this show in July. I got a really great script from Keith Higgins, who ran Pantomime Productions in Southborough. I then asked Carole Swift to choreograph and Anna Thompson to be Musical Director, and she put together a five-piece band. We then auditioned dancers in September along with the principals. This resulted in a very talented and energetic cast – who have given their all to make this production special.
Cinderella is on at Rotherfield Village Hall from January 18-21. For details on how to get tickets, see www.rotherfieldplayers.co.uk