Created by those involved and studying at the Musical Theatre Academy, this festive pantomime really puts a quirky twist on the traditional story of Cinderella.
It has been such a difficult year for students, having had their education so disrupted as it has been – but those at the Musical Theatre Academy have refused to let this dampen their spirits by creating this sharply written pantomime that pokes fun at Coronavirus and all the restrictions.
With a book and direction by Howard Samuels, Covidella and the Masked Ball follows the story of Covidella, who is the servant to her stepmother Countess Corona and two stepsisters hilariously named Bacteria and Germina. Of course Covidella wants to go to the upcoming royal ball along with them – but can she find a way?
The production is riotous fun from start to finish, replicating all the fun of a traditional pantomime – including bad jokes, audience participation (that recreates the atmosphere of watching the show in person with the help of the cast not on stage) and songs by Annemarie Lewis Thomas that really add to the fun of the show. There is a great pace and energy as the story unfolds that keeps the audience really engaged with the characters.
It really is an original and refreshing take on the classic pantomime – particularly when you throw into the mix characters such as Jeannie, Fairy Liquid, Dandy Lion and Anti Bac – all of whom try and help Covidella on her path to romance with Prince Charming.
Visually, there is also plenty to be admired as well. From Stewart J Charlesworth’s designs to the way in which magical effects have been applied to allow the fairies to do their magic – a lot of time and thought has gone into the creation of this family friendly show.
The production is performed by the academy’s current graduating year group and their sheer energy and joy is completely infectious to behold. While all offer strong performances, particular stand outs for me include Alex Matthews as Covidella’s loyal friend Bubble, who really gets into the spirit of things and is certainly suitably encouraging when it comes to the audience participation segments. Elsewhere, Stamatis Seraphim was delightfully villainous as Countess Corona, Emma Thrower as Anti Bac was wonderfully comedic and endearing and CherAnn Thorkilsen as Covidella who offers a lovely innocence to her performance.
Overall, this was a really joyful production from all those involved and a great showcase for all the upcoming talent that we will all have the joy of watching develop in their careers in the future.
By Emma Clarendon
Covidella and the Masked Ball is available to stream via Stream.Theatre until the 7th January.