Wednesday, December 07, 2011


One From The Heart at the Civic Theatre

Michael Fentiman's Sleeping Beauty was a straight old-school panto, delivered with boundless enthusiasm by a hard-working team. We had a brassy Northern Dame, a pure, demure Princess and a dashing Prince. We had snow, roller skates and flying by Kirby's. And a proper all-singing all-dancing chorus with proper chorus boys.

Richard Peakman's choreography lent life to every number Wicked's "Keep Dancing Through" could be the slogan here. Boys from Laine Theatre Arts, girls auditioned locally. "Three camp guys and a bunch of dodgy covers" a harsh verdict on Mike Cotton's Band: even David Saville's Witch Doctor sounded good ...

All the principals went the extra mile to get the audience going. I loved Stephen Carlile's evil drag queen Carabosse, a nice foil for the Scots Fairy Fortune [Melanie Masson]. Richard Earl as Nurse Nelly and John Weldon as her daft Welsh son Muddles were good comedy value. Three bad gags and you're off ? Well, hardly, there were some ancient classics here. But the ghost routine, enhanced with four gorillas all over the auditorium, was a triumph for the traditionalists.

Plenty of pyrotechnics, loads of frocks [wipe-clean for the kitchen sequence] and endless interaction with the audience all made for an excellent Christmas show, even if us oldies might have liked some better songs and a wittier script.

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