Panto boss under fire for calling 'ugly sisters Beatrice and Eugenie'
Published 03/01/2012 | 07:51
A THEATRE boss has been criticised after naming the two ugly sisters in a pantomime after princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
The performance of Cinderella at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Kent was criticised for featuring two male actors dressed up as the ugly sisters.
Theatre-goers complained it was a "cheap joke" to call the sisters after the Duke of York's two daughters. Producers defended their decision, pointing out that the sisters were not referred to as "ugly" in the panto.
The Marlowe Theatre website, however, clearly calls the pair the 'ugly sisters' on its website, with a photo of actors Ian Smith and Michael J Batchelor dressed up as the pair.
During the panto, which runs until the end of the month, the pair are seen in "hideous costumes including fake tiger skin, red leather and wigs.
One critic, Bob Britnell, a senior planning officer for Canterbury City Council, said the two daughters of Sarah, Duchess of York should "not be mocked".
He said: "Looking at their photos, they don't seem ugly, just two pretty, ordinary girls who get on with their lives without courting celebrity, so why mock them?
"Sadly there are plenty of people out there willing to mock others for no good reason.
"What a shame our pantomime has added to them. Shame on the producers and shame on the theatre for not intervening."
Another audience member, who did not want to be named, said: "I was appalled when the two ugly sisters were called Beatrice and Eugenie.
"It might be funny to some people, but there is no way the princesses would be happy with being made fun of this way."
Producer Paul Hendy, who also wrote and directed the show, said that although the sisters are called Beatrice and Eugenie, they are not called the "ugly sisters" during the show.
He denied it was a slur on the Royal princesses.
"The 'sisters' are indeed called Beatrice and Eugenie but the term 'ugly sisters' is never actually used in relation to the names and we never refer to the Royal family at any point.
"As a Royalist myself, I can guarantee there are no derogatory jokes about our royal family.
"In our production, our 'sisters' wear fantastically outrageous and lavish costumes and the joke is more of a reference to the self-confessed unusual fashion sense of the sisters' Royal namesakes."
He added: "In pantomime, there is a long tradition of using the names of famous people who have been in the public eye that year.
"I firmly believe that pantomime should have a slightly satirical edge and gently poke fun at the great and the good. It is the broad range of humour that makes pantomime so uniquely British.
"I do hope people will come to see for themselves that the Beatrice and Eugenie joke is a very small part of the show and is in no way offensive."