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Sleeping Beauty review at Oldham Coliseum – ‘fresh and gutsy’

Smaller-scale producers, please note: pantomime doesn’t have to be about recycling corny gags, old scenery, well-worn costumes and vaguely remembered television names.

This year’s skilfully staged Coliseum in-house production is an object lesson in keeping the corn well-seasoned while incorporating enough new storytelling twists, theatrical fairy dust and parochial references to make a tried and tested tale seem surprisingly fresh and gutsy.

Initially slightly confusing, with cast members doubling roles and the Nutty family’s daft, identical triplets to get your head around, the backstory behind princess Briar Rose’s century of sleep takes ages to unravel.

But the narrative eventually moves into a child-friendly stride, although a lame slapstick scene trips up badly and there’s a tendency for otherwise superbly choreographed full-scale production numbers to hold up the action as it nears the good-conquers-evil final stretch.

Sets, costumes and wigs are uniformly bright and bold, as are the performances, especially Demi Goodman turning the title role into a totally believable wide-eyed teen, Justine Elizabeth Bailey’s tounge-in-cheek take on panto’s principal boy cliches, and big, butch Nanny Nutty, played by Simeon Truby, who slipped into the funny frocks at the last minute when actor (and co-writer) Fine Time Fontayne had to pull out after an accident.

Verdict
Gutsy new take on a traditional tale

Production Information

Production
Sleeping Beauty
Venue
Coliseum Theatre
City
Oldham
Starts
November 12, 2016
Ends
January 7, 2017
Press night
November 12, 2016
Authors
Fine Time Fontayne, Kevin Shaw
Director
Kevin Shaw
Musical director
Dave Bintley
Choreographer
Beverley Edmunds
Set
Celia Perkins
Lighting
Douglas Kuhrt
Sound
Lorna Munden
Costume
Celia Perkins
Stage manager
Caroline Bowen (deputy stage manager), Christina Cornelisse (stage management student placement)
Cast includes
Justine Elizabeth Bailey, Liz Carney, Richard J Fletcher, Demi Goodman, Simeon Truby, David Westbrook
Producer
Oldham Coliseum Theatre
Running time
2hrs 15mins