Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal, Bath Review

It’s the start of the festive season and the Panto’s back in town! And this year in a more glittery, musical, special-effects laden production than ever, scripted by Mr Panto himself, Jon Monie, you can be assured of plenty of laughter laden sketches as well as all the traditional “oh no we haven’t” moments that make a pantomime such a special show.

The story is of Sleeping Beauty, a princess cursed by a wicked witch with an evil spell which can only be broken by true love, cue handsome prince, and good fairy to the rescue through a magical tour of music and stunning escapades. Princess Rose is played by Maisie Sellwood who is pretty as a picture and can belt out a powerful pop song as well when required. Neil McDermott as the handsome prince, Prince Vincent, lived up to his name, and gave a terrific performance done in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner which made us laugh, and he too has an excellent voice. Fairy Snowfall in a froth of organza waved her magic wand over the proceedings sometimes from high above the stage, beautifully executed and sung by Sarah Jane Buckley, and of course all in rhyme.

It was great to welcome back Nick Wilton as Nanny Nora, our bewigged and blowsy dame whose cooking skills left a lot to be desired (don’t mention the sausages), and Jon Monie as her son Lester the Jester kept the plot on track and amused us all. Something he didn’t bargain for was when he asked a little girl from the audience what she wanted for Christmas and she replied, a football shirt with the name of a particular football player on it. “Oh, and what team does he play for?” he asked. Solemnly she said, “Not he, she’s a girl”! It was very funny and an indicator of how times have changed!

Carabosse, the wickedest of witches was played in the most horrible and evil fashion with great panache by Emma Norman who took it as a personal afront if our boos and hisses weren’t quite loud enough. David Pendlebury was tremendous as the kindly and at times rather overwrought King (Princess Rose’s father).

The ensemble dancers deserve a shout out for their remarkable routines throughout, as do the children from the Dorothy Coleborn School of Dance who were so professional, especially bearing in mind their young ages, and a delight to watch. With fantastic costumes, the stage a blaze of shimmering lights, both a visual and musical feast who would want to miss this thrilling show. We loved it, but just one thing, please can Jon Monie put back the bench and ghost sketch – Christmas just isn’t the same without it!

Jacquie Vowles

Sleeping Beauty runs from 7 December – 7 January.


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