Just when panto season seemed over for another year, a secondary school in Castle Bromwich performed Cinderella with a modern twist, brightening the dull final days of January with a musical fairy tale panto fusion.
We all know the story of the downtrodden girl of the hearth, her wicked step mother and jealous ugly sisters. This warm-hearted version of the story had all the classic ingredients: pumpkins, mice, glass slippers and a clock ticking down to midnight.
Musicals fans were treated to songs from a wide range of shows including Hairspray, Miss Saigon, Grease, The Greatest Showman, La La Land, the Pink Panther and a wonderful full cast performance of 'It's a hard knock life' from 'Annie.'
Year 13 drama student Poppie Dearn delivered a convincing and sympathetic performance as Cinders. With a beautifully controlled voice, especially in her performance of 'My House' from 'Matilda', she enchanted the audience as well as the dashing Prince William, played with charm and smooth confidence by Alysha Maddocks Spooner.
There was great work too from Megan Kennedy as a dry and witty Dandini with perfect comic timing. Darcy Sturdy's feisty fairy godmother brought sass and sequins to the stage whilst double act Buttons and Wispa (Ellie Roberts and Katie Lund) struck the right balance between sickly sweet and romantic.
Joshua Hands gave an impressively confident performance in drag as Lady Tremaine, showing a real talent for physical comedy. Anastasia and Cecilia, the ugly sisters (Roxanne Burke and Aimee Crisp), were another fine double act, their Essex girl accents keeping the audience amused throughout.
But there was no doubting that this production was a true team effort, uniting students from year 7 to 13. Congratulations to the huge chorus of villagers, ball guests, animals, dancers and singers who lifted the whole show with a range of impressive song and dance routines choreographed by Mrs Cullum-Kenyon and Mrs Kirby.
Could there be a more important message in secondary schools than 'have courage and be kind'? This was Cinderella's life motto in the story and the central message of the show. Thanks to drama teacher and lighting technician Miss Keyte, messages of kindness and thanks from students across the academy provided the perfect finishing touch to an impressively professional production. There's clearly no shortage of talent at Park Hall.
Director and writer Mrs Cullum-Kenyon, and stage manager Mrs Kirby, managed to weave a musical spell around this classic fairy tale, fusing fun, laughter, music, dance and drama into an evening of perfectly pitched entertainment. It cast a magical spell over the audience, enchanting proud parents, teachers and visiting primary school children alike.