Hong Kong Players shall go to the ball

Local theatre company to present Cinderella – The Panto as part of the Udderbelly Festival this winter

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 November, 2015, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Players – the only local theatre troupe taking part in this city’s first Udderbelly Festival – are staging a new production that promises to get everyone into the festive mood: Cinderella – The Panto.

But is this classic fairytale of the glass slippers/ugly stepsisters/pumpkin carriage too well-worn for another revisit? Director Adam Walker doesn’t think so. He says the story has universal appeal and is a good piece of escapism.

“Our version of the story [written by Teri Fitsell and Katy Forse] takes many different twists and turns in order to delight our audience,” he says. “[They] have worked wonders on this year’s script, changing the context to suit our new and exciting venue.”

One reason why the Players are not returning to the Hong Kong Arts Centre for this year’s panto production is that the Shouson Theatre is currently being renovated, according to Fitsell. The AIA Great European Carnival, which sponsored their pantomime last year, then “came to the rescue” and invited them to the Udderbelly Festival Hong Kong.

“It’s a wonderful venue – I’ve seen shows in the Udderbelly Theatre on London’s South Bank – and an upside-down purple cow seems an appropriately bizarre setting for a panto,” she says.

Walker says that the audience will find themselves close to the performers throughout the show. But moving to this new venue is not without its challenges.

“As there are no options to fly in scenery and cloths this year, our team has had to be very creative to provide numerous solutions to problems that this, and the audience being on three sides of the stage, have caused,” Walker explains.

“But we have done a fabulous job, and I’m very grateful for their input. Of course, one of our big worries is making sure that there are enough sweets thrown out to the crowd to keep everyone happy.”

Shafin Azim will be in the title role while musical theatre veteran Arvin Robles will play opposite her as Prince Charming. Will they live happily ever after?

“If you want to know whether things come right for Cinders and she gets the Prince, you’ll just have to come along and see,” says Walker.

Cinderella – The Panto, December 4 to 6 and 10 to 13, various times. Udderbelly Festival Hong Kong, Central Harbourfront. Tickets: HK$290 and HK$350. Inquiries: 3128 8288.