Charming, romantic and traditional is how the show begins, but Simon Stallworthy, directing his fifth in-house Gala pantomime, gives the tale a fresh narrative twist and has a cinematic surprise in store for added delight.
This is a ferocious dragon animation projected on to a screen for a piece of combat that threatens to engulf the audience as the creature soars and swoops, emitting flames, in a battle against the prince’s firework-charged sword.
The dragon is the metamorphosis of Neil Armstrong’s villainous Scorchard the Wizard, an apt piece of technical visual wizardry in a show that is heart-warming, exuberant and offers lots of audience participation.
Gala regular Armstrong charms while he evilly smarms, managing mop-headed minions in a search for the princess he has cursed in her cradle.
Geordie Paul Hartley, back in the clown role as Silly Billy, is superbly manic in creating over-the-top mess in a slapstick baking scene with Steve Fortune’s comely Dame Miriam.
Christina Cuttell is pleasantly natural as Princess Aurora, while Ian Curran’s self-important Prince Roger turns up trumps as her swashbuckling saviour.
Tracey Iliffe’s sharp choreography set to contemporary songs injects pace, while Tony Ayling’s beautiful costumes are clearly drawn from fairytale illustrations.