Waipawa M&D has a reputation for putting on great productions.
So I'm not going to surprise anyone by announcing that their latest offering - Sir Roger Hall's very special CHB-based rewrite of Cinderella - is an absolute laugh out loud blinder of a show.
Sir Roger wrote this production for Waipawa M&D after seeing their last year's panto, Jack and the Beanstalk, so impressed was he with the skill and talent he saw.
We're so spoilt in Central Hawke's Bay.
From the time the curtain ... and the voices ... rose on the first number this production was full of fun and the vocal and visual treats came one after the other. And so did the local references, which was a lot of fun.
The casting is spot on. Sam Draper makes a delectably dastardly Dan Dini, and he has the most astonishing voice. As does Alanna Barkle whose sweet tones are perfect for doe-eyed Cinderella.
Cinders' cruel sisters though darned near steal the show. Harpie and Abrasia are horrendous and hilariously played by Danny Priestley and Dean Allsopp.
These two are a comedy duo in their own right and I wouldn't be surprised if there's a spinoff production in the making. This pair were the source of many a laugh out loud moment.
As was Mary Kippenberger as the sinister Bad Fairy. Mary does bad really well and was the perfect foil for Ann Fulford's gentle and wholesome Good Fairy.
The set was pared-back and clever, allowing for seamless scene changes. The lighting was excellent and having a live band makes for additional side effects as well as a special ambience.
There were many contenders vying for star billing alongside Cinders and her Prince. The mice gave it a darned good try but in the end I think the shoes won the day. No not the glass slippers, or even Dan Dini's shiny pointy boots ... it was Harpy's red high heels that were the most jaw-dropping. How on earth did she ... he ... dance in those things?
My junior reviewer also needs to have his say though. Jhasper, aged 9, went along to put in his two cents worth.
He was spellbound by Alanna Barkle's Cinderella, did not want the show to end, and told me with shining eyes "that pantomime was awesome!"
From start to finish this production is pacey and funny, the musical numbers incite you to sing along, in fact the last number may have raised the roof, there's traditional pantomime audience interaction (practise yelling "they're behind you!" before you go along) and the whole thing is light, bright and just what we all need after a tough 2020.