Review: Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty - Jennifer Ellison & Hayley Kay

Pantomine season is upon us once again…Oh yes it is. This year’s offering from The Grand Theatre is the ever popular tale of Sleeping Beauty. Featuring a cast of well-known faces, the show opened on Friday to a packed auditorium. From where I was sitting it appeared that every seat was filled with excited children and their families. I also noticed many young at heart adults, with not a child in sight, reliving the magic of pantomime.  And why not?

Sleeping Beauty - Steve Royle
Sleeping Beauty – Steve Royle

The chatter from the audience abated as the lights dimmed and the curtain rose. From the wings, Steve Royle requested that we turn off our mobile phones, refrain from photography and, if you were from Wigan, put your pigeon outside. And he expects a good review from me? Yes Steve, I’m from Wigan but I left my pigeon at home as he doesn’t like to go out in the cold. Steve then announced: “Hiya kids, it’s Billy here,” which led into the traditional “On no it isn’t! Oh yes it is!” scenario. The opening scene depicted the celebration for the christening of Princess Rose. The Good Fairy (Hayley Kay) flew in singing Way Up High whilst fairies gathered to give their magical gifts to the baby. The celebrations were then rudely interrupted by Carabosse (Jennifer Ellison). Furious to discover that she had not been invited, she put a curse on the baby princess so that she would prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. Fortunately, the Good Fairy had not yet bestowed her gift. Unable to completely reverse the spell, she changed it to a lesser one, so that the Princess would not die, but merely sleep for 100 years when she would be awakened by a kiss from her true love.

In the next scene we saw the Princess (Pheobe Lewis) as an adult preparing to celebrate her eighteenth birthday. Excitedly awaiting her party she sang Shake it Up before going off to inspect the preparations. Silly Billy, dressed as Harry Potter on a pantomime horse, arrived on a broom-stick. The adults in the audience were in stitches at the suggestively placed broomstick handle. Billy was joined by the King (Michael Chance) and an amusing, topical discussion about the use of the English language ensued. The Good Fairy used an app to obtain a spell for the Princess to meet the man of her dreams. It worked and Prince Charming (Lewis Bradley) appeared and it was love at first sight for the couple.

Nurse Kelly (Nick Wilton) arrived and treated us to her version of George Formby classic, Auntie Maggie’s Special Home Made Remedy. Slapstick and mayhem followed as she and Billy attempted to prepare food for the party. Watch out for the echo scene, it’s really funny. A more serious note was introduced as the Princess pricked her finger and immediately fell asleep. A distraught Prince sang I Will Go The Distance before vowing to save her. A brief interval followed.

The second part of the show saw Caraboose singing a very sultry version of Fever with the lyrics ‘hate’ and ‘evil’ replacing ‘love’. We were then taken forwards 100 years. The transition suggested time-travel with the Back To The Future theme music.

The Prince finally found Sleeping Beauty, kissed her and she awoke. They embraced and sang The Happy Song. Hilarious scenes with Silly Billy and Nurse Kelly followed before another song from the Prince and Princess and then the 118th birthday party was in full swing. Everyone was having a good time, including Billy in his Elvis wig, when Caraboose once again made an appearance. This time, she announced that she was going to marry the Prince. She put a spell on him and took him to her tower. Once again the Good Fairy came to the rescue with another spell. A TARDIS appeared and soon they were near to Caraboose’s tower and ready to rescue him. Were the Prince and Princess reunited? Was there a happy ending? I’m not telling you – I don’t want to spoil the show.

Space limitations have made it impossible to list the many hilarious antics of Silly Billy and Nurse Kelly interspersing this fairy-tale love story. A theme of ‘Everything Is Awesome’ ran through the show and the acting, singing and dancing certainly were. Tickets will make a wonderful pre or post Christmas treat for the young and the young at heart.

The pantomime runs until Sunday 4 January 2015.

Matinees and evening performances.  Tickets from £15 with concessions available.  For more information or to book call Box Office on 01253 290190 or visit the website.

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