Panto brings family together


It’s a true-life family fairy tale.

A father and daughter living on opposite sides of the world are starring in a theatrical show in Queenstown this weekend.

Experienced pantomime actor Richard Thomas, a Welshman based in England, plays the king and his Queenstown daughter Nicky Busst is Cinderella in Remarkable Theatre’s sixth annual summer show, Panto in the Park – Cinderella.

The pantomime’s being performed eight times in Queenstown Gardens between tonight and Sunday night.

Thomas, who’s “over 70”, introduced his daughter to Remarkable Theatre when summering here two years ago.

She subsequently starred in its production of Calendar Girls.

Busst, 40, who’s lived in Queenstown since 2001, says she was in two minds about doing Cinderella but jumped in when her dad auditioned.

“I thought I had to, because I’m in theatre partly because of him.

“He is amazing on stage, as are a lot of the actors in Queenstown – they just blow me away, I feel quite inferior.”

However she’s excited to be sharing the stage with her dad: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

As befits a typical British pantomime, Cinderella is a twist on the traditional tale, Thomas says.

“There are things that don’t happen in the real story that happen here.”

The part of the king “is just one of those silly roles – the thing about panto is it’s burlesque, it’s ludicrous”.

“The only two characters who are remotely sensible and normal are Cinderella and Buttons [played by Paul Halsted], except in this play he’s Button.”

Typical of panto, many men’s roles are played by women, and vice versa.

David Cantwell and Greg Dorn play the ugly sisters, Mike Legge plays the fairy godmother.

Thomas says: “He’s got a few rude jokes which he’s stuck in there.”

Fee Stephenson and Nicole Mclean play the prince and Dandini, respectively.

Thomas says there’s also ad libbing – “I do quite a lot” – and audience participation is encouraged.

“If it doesn’t rain, it should be entertaining.

“I don’t think people will have seen much like it before.”