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New panto combines Beatles and fairytales

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Cinderella and her step-sisters in costume for the Phnom Penh Players’ latest show.

They've been kicking around the Penh for more than a decade scoring up risqué pantomimes, and now the Phnom Penh Players are back with another cross-dressing, slapstick performance. 

Their 15th annual production Cinderella’s Hard Day’s Night will be performed at the Russian Cultural Centre on December 9 and 10.

The Phnom Penh Players are a group of long and short-term expatriates who produce comical pantomimes to raise funds for NGOs involved in Cambodian arts.

“This is the classic Cinderella fairy tale with a Phnom Penh twist,” pantomime director and co-writer Zac Kendall said.

Cinderella is a down-trodden girl who dreams of meeting Prince Charming while she slaves away in factories and is thwarted by her three ugly step-sisters.  

“Her Lakeside district is about to be bulldozed and just when things appear most grim, she is invited to the Prince’s birthday party, and….well I’ve told you too much already,” Kendall said.

The name of the pantomime gives a hint to its musical theme. It features hit music from ‘60’s rock band The Beatles.

“I’m a huge Beatles fan, and their music is perfect for a pantomime, as there is a song for every occasion,” Kendall said.

Hard Day’s Night is the name of a Beatles song and with lyrics like, “It’s been a hard day’s night and I’ve been working like a dog……You know I work all day to get you money to buy you things”, it’s a good fit for Cinderella’s situation.

Kendall co-wrote the pantomime with English expat Claire Barker.

“Many young women here in Cambodia are in the same situation as Cinderella, they slave away for lazy family members and multinational corporations,” Barker said.

Mark Twine, who plays one of Cinderella’s evil step sisters, said “No one has adequately explained why an Aussie man wearing a wig and a dress is best placed to play Cinderella’s mean step-sister, but I’m not complaining. It’s the most fun you can have in high heels.”

Cinderella is played by English actress Kate Lewis.

“Cinderella may seem to be a bit drippy, waiting around to be discovered by a prince, but my character has a bit more to her than that,” Lewis said.

All the proceeds from the pantomime will go to Epic Arts in Kampot, a group that teaches visual arts, drama, music and dance to handicapped people.

The show is at 7.30pm each night and a matinee performance is scheduled for 1pm on December 10. Tickets are $10, and are available at The Willow, #1 St 21.

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