The Maltese festive season would not be the same without the traditional pantomime to entertain the whole family. From concept through to opening night, the panto production process begins a lot earlier in the year, however. We went behind the scenes of MADC’s legendary festive show ‘Cinderella’, to see what it takes to bring a traditional Maltese pantomime to life.
A World-Famous Story
Almost as soon as the previous year’s panto has taken its final bow, preparations kick in for the following year, with the first and most important decision to take being which story to do next. Settling upon the classic fairytale ‘Cinderella’, MADC’s pantomime version needed not only to include traditional panto characters such as the princess, principal boy, dame and villain, but also had to be updated to suit a modern, young audience.
A Knockout Script
Having agreed on ‘Cinderella’ as the story, the next step was to pen the panto script. Local theatre stalwart Marylu Coppini gladly accepted the task, and set about adapting the tale to fit MADC’s genre, introducing two dames instead of the traditional one, who would play Cinderella’s two ugly stepsisters, and including local elements with which Maltese audiences could identify with, such as setting it in the fictional city of Valsetta.
A Stellar Cast
As important as a good story are the performers who will bring it to life. After a vigorous audition process with director Chris Gatt that began in April, all the show’s principal and chorus roles were cast with a plethora of local talent. Panto regulars Jean Pierre Busuttil and Michael Mangion take on the roles of the two dames, whilst Isabel Warrington is the evil stepmother Baroness Kifusa. Meanwhile Sandie von Brockdorff is the Prince, Francesca Briffa will wave her magic wand as the Fairy Godmother, and Rachael Tedesco Triccas is the title role of Cinderella.
No panto is complete without a variety of stunning and intricate costumes in every scene. Local artist and performer Isabel Warrington (who also plays the evil stepmother!) designed the entire wardrobe for the show, whilst several seamstresses and a large backstage Wardrobe Team helped to realise her sketches for the stage. The props department then completes the look with dozens of intricate props, from swords to sweets.
A Stunning Set
In MADC’s panto home at the huge MFCC Ta’ Qali, the task is put to Set Designer Aldo Moretti alongside Claudio and Jason Apap to transform it into a spectacular toy theatre in which the story of ‘Cinderella’ can be told. This year, Audrick Plum also assists in flying Cinderella to the moon and back. Along with beautifully designed lighting, the set will be a magical wonderland that will transport audiences the moment they take their seats for the show.
To make ‘Cinderella’ even more family-friendly, this year MADC has added more matinee shows than usual. With opening night on Friday 22nd December, daily matinee and evening performances will run through to Tuesday 2nd January, except on 24th, 25th, 31st December and 1st January.
Don’t Forget Pranks Night!
At the end of the run of every annual pantomime, it is an MADC tradition to make a single performance open to pranks, that may be played on the cast and crew at any time during the show. Over the years, these pranks have included neat alcohol being replaced for the water an actor had to drink during a scene, a replacement actor in a tutu showing up unexpectedly, and someone dressed in a rabbit costume hiding on stage to surprise the villain, as well as an entire dancing chorus. These pranks nights are renowned in their own right and many audience members hope to buy tickets for these hilarious one-off shows!
Tickets and show times can be found on MAC’s website.