Malvern Theatres, Malvern – until 8 January 2017
What a pantomime, in all the best senses of the word, Sleeping Beauty in Malvern is most definitely my pantomime of the season. It has been cast perfectly with stars who all grasp the concept of family entertainment and the heart of the tradition and have produced a glorious show which has really put me in the festive spirit.
The set provided an elegant backdrop, the costumes were fabulous and it was clear that this has been a real team effort where everybody should be commended for creating a magical party atmosphere. This pantomime take on the fairy tale varies slightly to the Disney version which most people are aware of, but the basics are all there and the straight forward story was easy to follow for my young toddler, he enjoyed every moment.
Directed by Chris Pizzey, the story of Sleeping Beauty is told through a terrific mixture of popular musical numbers, slick and well placed choreography and the tongue in cheek humour that one associates with this genre of show.
Amy Thompson is a beautiful Princess Rose, she has all the gentile, too-good-to-be-true loveliness but she avoids portraying her as sickly sweet and brings some substance to the role. Her vocal ability is stunning and she has wonderful chemistry with her Prince (David Barrett). Barrett plays the role in a humorous super-hero style but doesn’t take the character too seriously, which works. He is well-matched vocally with Thompson and I felt that the audience were on his side. Rebecca Wheatley was a wonderfully giggly and sparkly fairy, she was superb at telling the tale both through narration and song, I was already familiar with Wheatley’s singing voice and she didn’t disappoint. Chris Pizzey also took the role of Silly BIlly “when I say Silly you say Billy!”, as an experienced children’s’ entertainer he was spot on in the comedy role and his cheekiness was infectious. Quinn Patrick was my kind of Dame, as Nanny Glucose he interacted brilliantly with the audience, picking out a ‘boyfriend’ from among the audience. His comic timing was particularly on point and he had a hilarious scene with Pizzey in act two involving a ‘mirror’, what was a highlight. I was also delighted to hear Patrick call upon so many classic pantomime jokes, all of which he executed fantastically. What of the baddie? I hear you ask? Oh yes I do! Gillian Wright (who made her appearance to the tune of the Eastenders theme) is now my all-time favourite pantomime villain. As Carabosse, her evil laugh was a joy to behold, she coaxed the audience participation from the outset and she threw herself into her big number, proving that she is so much more than just Eastenders’ Jean Slater. Wright can sing, dance, express so many emotions with facial expressions which was entertaining in itself and she clearly enjoys what she’s doing. I would travel anywhere to see her on stage again.
Gillian Wright is my favourite baddie to date! Fabulous as Carabosse.
If you want a traditional, family pantomime with plenty of opportunities to sing along, featuring a classic love tale told by a superb cast, this is the one for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough, a first class production.