Traditional fun with a twist

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

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What do you look for in a good pantomime? Audience participation? Slapstick fun? A good sing-a-long? Maybe the odd innuendo for the mums and dads?

Well this panto had all that and more, and it kept a young matinee audience – including six-year-old Leo and four-year-old Ben, well under its spell.

This Sleeping Beauty had all the ingredients of the traditional panto, with lots of ‘he’s behind yous’, ‘oh no he isn’ts’, a hissable villain, the messy slapstick in the kitchen, the knee-booted principal boy – although we missed some good old-fashioned thigh-slapping – as well as a song sheet to sing-a-long to, and a smattering of stars from the TV.

But this wasn’t a relic – in a nod to the 21st century we had gags about Twitter and One Direction, and some pretty impressive special effects, involving time travel and dragons.

The cast all performed well, with Ken Morley –Coronation Street’s Reg Holdsworth – a suitably befuddled King Bumble, and Kay Purcell – from Waterloo Road and CBBC’s The Dumping Ground, making a good villain out of her fairy-gone-bad.

Princess Belle and Prince Valiant (Emma Nowell and Laura Robson) were suitably fresh-faced and energetic, but the stars of this show were undoubtedly Kraig Thornber as the exuberant dame, Nanny Nora, and Nick Newbould as Josh, the jester with a good heart.

After a slightly overlong first act, these two really got going after the interval, getting the audience going with a funny routine in the villain’s lair, before doing the best with the children they brought out of the audience to help with a sing-a-long. The panto only opened on Friday, so as the run continues (to January 3), their double act will only get better.

In the meantime, the singing and dancing is terrific and you can be guaranteed a good time, full of festive fun.

Oh, yes you are!

Philip Cunnington