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Sleeping Beauty

“Slick, tightly choreographed fun”

After 10 years at the helm of the St Albans panto, writer Paul Hendy knows what he’s doing. His production of Sleeping Beauty may not be the most innovative panto this season, but it ticks all the necessary boxes.

It is a welcome surprise to discover that Brexit is not the butt of all jokes, with allusions to Jacob Rees-Mogg and “naughty” MPs being the closest we get to the political hot potato.

Instead, the focus is on Hendy’s clever scripting, which results in a “vegetable pun-off” between Nurse Nellie (St Albans panto regular Bob Golding, who also directs), the King (Ian Kirkby) and Jangles (Andy Day), with references to Bake Off (“Mel-on Sue”) and Gloria Gaynor lyrics (“I am what I yam”).

A bathroom piping disaster starts to resemble Fawlty Towers – the King is drenched with water from the mouth of a mounted moose head, and Nurse Nellie levitates above a leaking toilet. Their performances are great fun.

EastEnders’ Rita Simons is a convincing Carabosse, with traces of the gobby Roxy Mitchell, but as the prince, Phillip Ryan could do with turning up the charm. Jemma Carlisle’s voice impresses and it’s nice to see a progressive twist, with the princess, rather than the prince, slaying the fire-breathing dragon (enhanced by a smoke machine).

There are a number of big-hitting songs, everything from Madness’ Baggy Trousers to Seasons of Love, which are tightly choreographed, contributing to the slick and professional feel of the production.

Helga Wood’s costumes are dazzling without going overboard on the glitter – look out for Nurse Nellie’s Madonna-esque conical bra.

Cinderella review at Alban Arena, St Albans – ‘crackingly good’

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Production Details
Production nameSleeping Beauty
VenueAlban Arena
LocationSt Albans
StartsDecember 6, 2019
EndsJanuary 5, 2020
Running time2hrs 30mins
AuthorPaul Hendy
DirectorBob Golding
Musical directorAlex Turney
ChoreographerKatie Monks
Set designerTerry Parsons
Costume designerHelga Wood
Lighting designerAndrew Ellis
Sound designerPhil Wilson
CastAndy Day, Bob Golding, Ian Kirkby, Jemma Carlisle, Lisa Davina Phillip, Phillip Ryan, Rita Simons
TechnicalSue Cook, Anna Harper, Annie Greenstreet, Colin Bean, Ella Neal, Fiona Williams, Jes Baines, Kate Flanaghan, Stuart Relph
Stage managerJasmin Hay, Ruth Endersby
ProducerEvolution Productions
VerdictSlick production of Sleeping Beauty from a St Albans panto veteran
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