Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
A fairy story of rags and richness
There are a lot of things the British do well - monarchy, for example; and tea, pomp and ceremony, drag, tradition and most importantly - humour.
Cinderella's fantasy forest. Set painting by The Painted Room (Photograph courtesy of The Painted Room)
One of the better combinations of these attributes is the traditional English pantomime, defined as 'a theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, which involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas.'
Emily Schinkel is Cinderella (Photograph courtesy of ETC)
It has a very long history in Britain and developed out of the 16th century Commedia dell'arte Italian theatrical tradition of Pierrot, Colombina, Pantaloon and the zanni (servants).
From the beginning of the nineteenth century, it began to develop its uniquely English characteristics and conventions - the principal boy (Aladdin, Jack, Dick Whittington etc) is always played by a young woman; the dame (often the principal boy's mother) is played by a man in drag and heavy make-up.
An Ugly Stepsister in the Elfenbrook parade (Photograph courtesy of ETC)
Audience participation - calls of 'He's behind you' and 'Oh, yes he is!' and 'Oh, no he isn't!' and the destruction of the 'fourth wall' between cast and audience, with the cast engaging the audience in the action. The script contains at least three kinds of humour - broad slapstick, simple jokes for the children and sometimes subtle risqué double entrendes designed for adult appreciation only.
There's always singing, often well-known tunes with re-written lyrics and goodies appear from the left and baddies from the right (a convention that goes back to the medieval mystery plays where left was heaven and right, hell.
The plot is usually based loosely on a folk tale or fairy story, such as Cinderella, which is the selected panto for Ellenbrook Theatre Company, which for such a young theatrical company has racked up some solid successes in their annual pantomime.
Cinderella's director Chris McRae (Photograph courtesy of ETC)
Last year they mounted the highly-regarded Aladdin and this year's looks fair set to be at least as good.
Director Chris McRae, head of Music and Drama at Holy Cross College in Ellenbrook has drawn together a large and talented cast of both new and familiar faces.
The lovely, put-upon, Cinderella who works amongst the cinders and embers of the kitchen (Emberella?) is played by Emily Schinkel and her Prince Charming by Jordan Lenihan. The wicked stepmother so beloved of folk tales is local favourite Meredith Corr and her two repellent children by Giordarna Rigoli and Rebecca McRae.
A large, talented and agile chorus of nineteen has been co-captained by Max Hughes and Renae O'Neill.
PINKed is the Fairy Godmother (Photograph courtesy of Sabrina Morris)
In addition to all the traditional trappings, pantos often feature famous stars as the Fairy Godmother or suchlike, so naturally ETC have done the same. The Rock Star Pink was unfortunately busy, so they got the next best thing - Perth's only Pink tribute, PINKed (Sabrina Morris).
Stacy Gardol of The Painted Room with some of the sets from Cinderella (Photograph courtesy of ETC)
Cinderella, which promises to be a very great deal of fun for the inner and outer child of all ages runs from the 17th December until the 21st at the Ellenbrook Performing Arts Centre, 100 Main Street, Ellenbrook.
Tickets cost $20 for adults ($16 concession) and may be obtained from the Trybooking website here.