Gracie McGonigal stars in the title role in Theatre Royal Stratford East’s pantomime, Cinderella.
Each year, Stratford East’s panto tears up the rulebook and turns a classic story on its head to make it relevant to the local community and beyond. Get ready to experience a unique twist on this classic tale, set in the ancient home of Sphynx cats, pharaohs and the empress Cleopatra.
The cast includes Kathryn Bond as Sphinx, Wesley Bozonga as Marc Antony, Micah Holmes as Chrishell, Gracie McGonigal as Cinderella, Tendai Rinomhota as Amanza, Alex Wadham as Caesar and Gigi Zahir as Cleopatra, with musicians Sara Farina and Perry Mellus.
Cinderella is at Theatre Royal Stratford East Saturday 19 November 2022 — Saturday 07 January 2023.
You’re starring in Cinderella at Theatre Royal Stratford East, what can you tell us about this version of the classic panto?
True to form for Stratford East, we are spinning the classic Cinderella on its head. Set in a hybrid of ancient Egypt and London for starters and full of twists and quirks that you’d never expect from a classic pantomime.
Our Cinderella is truly new and I can’t wait for everyone to see it and connect with our cast! Eva Sampson has put her modern vision and stamp on the classic tale and it feels completely new. With Josh Sood as MD and Myles Brown as choreographer we’ve got the dream team.
Why do you think Stratford East’s tradition of turning a classic story on it’s head works so well for the local community?
I think the reason that Stratford East’s tradition of spinning a classic tale on its head works so well for the community is that our show is so accessible and relevant to our audience. So much of our show is written specifically for the community – packed with gags and recognisable places.
Plus- often traditional pantomimes are cast where an audience might not be able to recognise themselves on stage but our actors are diverse and I (a disabled woman) would never have seen someone like myself playing Cinderella on the stage before – but hopefully this cast shows the next generation that a career in the arts can be accessible for all. I love this cast- brought together by the amazing Harry Blumenau.
What was it about Leo Butler’s script that really appealed to you?
I am a huge fan of Leo Butler! I think he writes hilariously and intelligently. I had read lots of his stuff before I was attached to this show and was delighted to see he was writing it! – the first time I read the script I had no idea what was coming and I was surprised on every page. when a script has you laughing out loud before you even see the show on its feet- you know you’re in safe hands.
The show features original music from Robert Hyman, what can audiences expect from the score?
Another special thing about Stratford East is its commitment to original music. The score by panto-pro Robert Hyman is a masterpiece- a combination of styles and genres that feel eclectically perfect for our show but with songs written so well that they’ll have you singing and dancing all the way home. It has been a joy to work with SUCH a seasoned professional and the loveliest man.
You’ll be coming to this straight from a run at The National Theatre, what are you looking forward to about working on a more light-hearted production?
I’ve been rehearsing for this show whilst simultaneously performing as ‘Susanna Walcott’ and cover ‘Abigail Williams’ in the Crucible at the National Theatre. Normally working two shows is the most exhausting thing in the world but getting to work on two completely contrasting shows has been exhilarating.
I had a ball working at the National and it has been a delight every morning to come to rehearse our show at Stratford East where we are constantly playing like kids and having a blast. I’m sure that all the fun we’ve been having in rehearsals is seeping into the final show and the audience will feel that we’ve made our panto with love.
This show really feels like Christmas and every minute working on it has been lighthearted joy! I went on a lot as my cover ‘Abigail’ in the last couple of weeks and playing two leading ladies has honestly been a dream come true and simultaneously the biggest challenge ever- but I feel so lucky that both Eva Sampson (Cinderella) and Lindsey Turner (Crucible) trusted me with their shows. (Also the BEST working with two female directors- I am truly blessed)
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking tickets to see Cinderella?
To anyone wondering if they should book tickets, I urge you to. This panto is truly special and there’s something in it for everyone- bring the whole family! Cinderella at Stratford East is Christmas magic in a show.