After three weeks of very intensive rehearsals (for me as much as my daughter), the opening night of Cinderella arrived. And there was no way I was going to miss it! We booked tickets weeks ago, when hardly any tickets had been booked, and my husband opted for the front row, right in the middle. Much to my daughter’s horror.
My daughter had taken rehearsals completely in her stride and was never nervous, so I’m pleased to say I wasn’t nervous either on the first night. She plaited her hair to perfection (I have no idea how she does it) and my mum applied her make-up (one day I’m going to have to bite the bullet and do it myself) and she was off! Ready for her big stage debut.
The show opens with the Fairy Godmother giving a bit of Cinderella’s back story. And to tell the story she had a family of little mini-mes – small versions of the key people in Cinderella’s life. So the second person on the stage was my daughter! She was playing a comedy miniature Baron Hardup, literally left holding the baby after his wife died. Then he too died dramatically and crawled off the stage as the curtains opened ready for the big opening scene.
And there was my daughter on the back of the stage, smiling in a different costume. How did she get there so quickly?
The chorus members all danced with the Buttons and Dandini in a really high-energy routine. It’s one I’d seen hundreds of times in my kitchen already, but with the costumes, the sets and everyone else on stage, it looked absolutely amazing. I was bursting with pride that the little girl, up there on stage, dancing brilliantly was my daughter.
As I watched the panto, I realised just how much I knew about it. Every joke, every song, every character, every dance routine… My daughter had told me A LOT about it. But did that make me enjoy it any less? No. In many ways it just made me even more proud.
I wondered if I might get bored in the bits without my daughter. It’s a bit weird, isn’t it? A couple of adults watching a panto without any kids in tow. But of course I didn’t get bored. It was way too funny and entertaining for that. The ugly sisters had me in stitches. At one point, they were standing so close we could have touched them. We were quite literally in the firing line in their search for ‘a posh bloke’. Luckily my husband wasn’t posh enough for them!
My daughter’s next appearance on stage was at the end of the first act – in the transformation scene. As the Fairy Godmother turns the pumpkin into the carriage, ballet dancers appear, glowing in the dark under UV light. My daughter was convinced we wouldn’t see her as it was dark and had told us to look out for her – she would be the little one at the front in the orange dress. She really didn’t need to tell us that – we could spot her anywhere.
The ballet dancing was beautiful and very different from the first routine. I hope her ballet teacher will be proud when she watches (I know she will).
Act 2 opened with the ball. All of the chorus were dancing, in my daughter’s favourite dance of the lot. This one was even more complex and entertaining than the first dance. As I think about it now, I’m trying to remember if she was dressed as a man or a woman in this one and I’m not even sure. She was slightly obscured by an ugly sister’s humungous dress, so I moved seats to try to see her better. But she knew exactly where we were sitting and had kept her eyes on us all the way through and was apparently a bit troubled to suddenly see my seat empty. And I still didn’t see her any better. Hopefully next time I will have a clearer view.
Just before the end of the dancing, my daughter sneaked off. Baroness Hardup was causing trouble in the ballroom and Dandini had to call for palace security.
On walked the security guard in black bomber jacket and woolly hat, a bit smaller and less burly than your average security guard.
My daughter was greeted by laughs, applause and cheers FROM PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HER. I was so proud. This was her starring moment. She was so funny that people laughed as much at her as they did at the ugly sisters! Yet she kept a perfectly straight face as she delivered her line and bundled the Baroness off. In response to all the laughter, the Baroness added a little twist to her line – and struggled to keep a straight face herself!
The security guard crossed the stage a couple of more times over the next few minutes as she saw the Baroness off once and for all. I was surprised when she re-appeared a couple of scenes later, in Cinderella’s kitchen, as the ugly sisters caused trouble.
At the end of the show, when all of the chorus and most of the main characters had new, special ‘wedding’ outfits, my daughter took her bow dressed as the security guard. She went on after the other chorus members, with a child playing a bigger non-speaking part. She even got to take her bow and dance in the front line. She looked so little and cute and I could have burst with pride!
My husband said the panto was one of his proudest moments and I would have to agree. It’s a huge thing for a child to do and she looked so slick and professional up on stage.
I couldn’t have been more proud of my girl. I can’t stop thinking about how well she did and I can’t wait to see the show again.