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Sleeping Beauty review at Buxton Opera House – ‘wittily scripted’

James Holmes and Jessica Revell in Sleeping Beauty at Buxton Opera House James Holmes and Jessica Revell in Sleeping Beauty at Buxton Opera House
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Johnathan Tweedie is a brilliant baddie. His Maleficent is magnificent. His delivery is faultless, his singing voice fine and his performance a joy to behold.

Yet that’s not to say the Buxton Opera House pantomime is a one-trick pony affair. Despite necessary budgetary restraints faced by all smaller producers, it scores well in all departments and benefits hugely from Philip Dart’s witty and intelligent script, stuffed with puns, topical references and local colour. And despite sticking to the familiar story, he has managed to smoothly introduce a time travelling element, courtesy of mad professor King Bertram (Alasdair Baker) enabling the narrative to wander into different decades. This lets them reprise some 1980s hits and fashions.

A potentially clever laboratory-based slapstick scene falls rather flat, but James Holmes is a delightfully comic Dame Nanny Nora, eliciting plenty of laughs without going over the top, and Matthew Jay Ryan’s Billy is adab hand at audience participation. Jessica Revell is a sweet-voiced Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora and the team of clearly well-trained local dancers are an added joy.

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Wittily-scripted and winningly performed pantomime featuring a standout performance from Johnathan Tweedie