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Sleeping Beauty

“Warm-hearted and irrepressible”

This is Kenneth Alan Taylor’s 37th pantomime for the Nottingham Playhouse. I’ve seen almost all of them and I think this is a strong contender for his best yet.

A kitchen scene where John Elkington’s sublimely arch and matronly Dame is berating a quivering rabbit for not hopping into the pie dish – “It’s for your own good. Get in”– sums up the wonderful daftness of it all. The scene goes on to involve a cleaver, some chocolate raisins and Bright Eyes from Watership Down.

It’s gloriously costumed thanks to Tim Meacock’s stunning designs. But the hallmark of this panto remains its crystal-clear storytelling and the performances of a seasoned and well-loved cast, coupled with some new faces.

They include Toyin Ayedun-Alase as a fierce, rich-toned Maleficent, and Lisa Ambalavanar making a very impressive professional debut as Fairy Wiseheart. The thigh-slapping Principal Boy tradition established here by Susie McKenna continues with Louise Dalton’s swashbuckling Prince Alexander. Alongside them Rebecca Little makes an ebullient Queen Gertrude.

It’s the warmth and conviction that make it so enjoyable. You can almost feel the waves of goodwill connecting the audience and actors. There are no celebrity acts here, just shamelessly old gags, inventive choreography, and a medley of songs for the audience to roar out – including Rockin’ All Over the World, performed by Elkington and Tim Frater (a bouncy Jerry the Jester). The show is nothing short of a masterclass in how to do panto that genuinely works for the whole family.

Susie McKenna: All hail the pantomime – our theatres would be lost without it

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Production Details
Production nameSleeping Beauty
VenueNottingham Playhouse
StartsNovember 22, 2019
EndsJanuary 11, 2020
Running time2hrs 35mins
AuthorKenneth Alan Taylor
DirectorKenneth Alan Taylor
Musical directorJohn Morton
ChoreographerAdele Parry
Set designerTim Meacock
Costume designerTim Meacock
Lighting designerJason Taylor
Sound designerAdam P Mccready
CastDarren Southworth, John Elkington, Louise Dalton, Rebecca Little, Tim Frater, Toyin Ayedun-Alase, Lisa Ambalavanar [debut], Maddie Harper
VerdictWarm-hearted and irrepressible family pantomime
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