Yesterday I was one of a few people from Urban Sketchers Reading who drew and painted during the dress rehearsal of this year’s Hexagon Christmas panto, Cinderella.

We’ve sketched at the Hexagon before, during rehearsals of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra earlier this year and although I was sat in a similar place, this was a completely different experience! Lots of colour and glitter and elaborate sets to pour over but also so dynamic and fast paced. I think this was the toughest place I’ve tried to sketch. I started sketching the set in watercolour and pencil (below) but then the lights went down and everything was a whirlwind of fireworks and dancing and I couldn’t see much or keep up :)

So I moved to the iPad and captured some of the bright, wonderful and often fleeting costumes instead. My particular favourite was Cinderella’s colander tiara and nine carrot gold necklace which she wears when she thinks all hope of going to the ball is lost and buttons is trying to cheer her up.

I think I’ve only been to a proper panto (i.e. not by school kids in a village hall) once, as a school trip, but I don’t remember much about it. I think things must have changed since then because I would have remembered all the special effects and glitter of something like this. The actor playing Buttons is Justin Fletcher (also the writer), who is a CBeebies’ star and Berkshire local. He’s won several BAFTA children’s awards for a show called Something Special, which he presents while signing in Makaton, a type of sign language. I assume this is also the language used by various actors to sign through some of the songs in Cinderella. This was a nice touch.

I only sketched until the interval so I don’t know the full story but the first half ended on a spectacular note that I won’t spoil. The show opens this evening and runs until 5th Jan.

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