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Sleeping Beauty review at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre – ‘big energy and silly banter’

Benefiting from a serious dose of kids’ TV nostalgia, Sleeping Beauty at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre is a warm-hearted pleasure.

Director Ian Adams shapes the production around his cast’s assorted variety acts, showcasing some elegant ballroom dance breaks, and replacing most of traditional panto’s hoariest routines with a succession of slick, increasingly impressive magic tricks.

As enthusiastic a foil as you could hope for, Richard Cadell steals the show as canny jester Muddles, thanks largely to mischievous, fondly remembered glove puppets Sooty and Sweep – who bring the house down at one point with a squealing rendition of Nessun Dorma. Though Cadell keeps the energy big and the banter silly, his interactions with the child volunteers drawn from the audience are delightfully gentle.

Debbie McGee evidently enjoys herself as Fairy Crystal, loading her lines with breathless ad libs, while local comic Doreen Tipton gets great laughs with her appealingly offbeat character comedy.

Kelvin Towse’s score features a cheerful mix of tapdance jazz and well-curated pop, which breaks into cinematic melodrama at key moments. When a massive, budget-consuming dragon takes flight over the audience’s heads, the effect is suitably heightened by the burst of tense strings that accompany it.

https://www.thestage.co.uk/pantomime/ [1]

Verdict
Familiar fairytale that feels fresh thanks to an endearing cast

Production

Production
Sleeping Beauty
Venue
Grand Theatre
City
Wolverhampton
Starts
December 8, 2018
Ends
January 13, 2019
Press night
December 12, 2018
Authors
Alan McHugh, Richard Cadell, David Tristram
Director
Ian Adams
Musical director
Kelvin Towse
Choreographer
Julie Paton
Design
The Twins FX (visual effects)
Set
Ian Westbrook
Lighting
Tom Johnson
Sound
Ben Harrison
Costume
Ian Westbrook
Stage manager
Ray Tizzard (company stage manager), Lisa Briddon (deputy stage manager)
Cast includes
Ian Adams, Richard Cadell, Bethan-Wyn Davies, Debbie McGee, Oliver Ormson, Julie Paton, Doreen Tipton
Producer
Qdos Entertainment
Running time
2hrs 25mins