Review: Sleeping Beauty
Camberley Theatre knows how put on a brilliant festive family show - and this year's was a beauty!
They do things a bit differently in Camberley. No reality TV drop-outs or forgotten boy banders here – just a strong cast of professional actors with three teams of talented local kids who take it in turns to dazzle in the ensemble.
It’s a winning combination – last year’s staging of Peter Pan was the theatre’s most successful in-house production ever, and this year’s Sleeping Beauty looks set to follow.
Suzi Budd returns to the director’s chair for a third year in a row, and popular panto dame Robert Pearce has ditched his frock for this particular show to write the script.
And what a script it was – full to brimming with all those things we love most about traditional panto: audience interaction, sing song, silly jokes, shouting out and clever one-liners. This is good family panto at its best.
We start with an introduction to the three good fairies, Fairy Here, Fairy There and Fairy Everywhere, a trio of soul sisters in the Aretha Franklin vein. And yep, they sure can sing.
You know the story so no need for a precis here – Princess Aurora (Louise Young) meets her handsome Prince Florizel of Aldershot (Steve Banks). Romance blooms, disaster strikes, they sleep for 100 years (while we take a 20 minute interval!). And then someone saves the day – in this case by a giant dragon.
There’s a baddie: The evil fairy Carabosse, played by Melanie Stevens, who quite possibly steals the show with her sassy attitude, cackling laugh and powerful voice.
Princess Aurora and Prince Florizel weren’t too shabby in the vocals department either belting out a bevy of big hits including ‘Rewrite the Stars’ from The Greatest Showman. I got a big goosebumpy at that, but not before a perfectly timed ‘Oh no’ two bars into the song from a small child in the audience.
Of course there are the comic figures – and this show was chock full of them. Jingle and Jangle, a pair of dimwitted palace runabouts; and Nick Wymer as the dame Nanny Nee Naw who had the quick outfit change down to a fine art, appearing in about a dozen different dresses each more extravagant than the previous one.
And then there was Muddles, Princess Aurora’s best friend and the palace jester who bore more than a passing resemblance to Jim Carrey with his facial contortions and body tics. He was genuinely funny.
Special mention must go to the ensemble and junior performers who brought a bundle of energy and pizzazz to the show. The sets, too, must also get a mention – Camberley Theatre was truly transported to the kingdom of Snoozonia with stunning set designs taking us from the palace courtyard to the forgotten turret and Carabosse’s lair with creativity and flair.
A guaranteed festive fun night out free of boy band veterans, X-Factor runners-up and reality TV drop-outs. And with a start time of 6pm, it’s perfect for the kiddies who still need to be home and tucked up in bed at a decent hour.
Sleeping Beauty is at Camberley Theatre until Monday 31 December. camberleytheatre.co.uk