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.