Sleeping Beauty

Date 4th January 2020
Society Milton Keynes Amateur Operatic Society
Venue The Venue, MiltonKeynes
Type of Production Pantomime
Director John Dowell and Amy Hansford
Musical Arrangements James Clark at Sound-Board
Choreographer Juliet Lennox
Producer Kevin Amies


Author: Keith Loynes


Sleeping Beauty by the Milton Keynes AMAZING Operatic Society was anything but “amateur” ,playing to packed houses from the 21st of December through to the 4th of January.

This was my first visit to The Venue MK and I knew we were about to see a professional show the minute we entered the auditorium, due to the wonderful lighting effects, under the control of Martin Putman throughout the performance. Another pointer of what was to come was the show programme, which was not only produced to a very high standard but also included three activity pages for the children.

Any pantomime must have a strong Dame and dastardly Villain. These were superbly provided by John Dowell as Florrie Floppybottom and Vicky Amies as the evil witch Carabosse.

Carabosse, had a distinct disadvantage as she was assisted by a dragon, who was really a good guy but working for the wrong person. Played by Kayleigh Quinn, showing her newly acquired puppetry skills, working as one with the small version of her adorable character.

The Society clearly has strength in depth, so the old adage about the “weakest link” didn’t apply. Right the way through the chorus to the “mini dancers”, teams Flora & Merryweather, the standard was superb.

Samantha Mellor provided excellent narrative to the story as well as playing Fairy Liquid, the head fairy, ably assisted by Charlotte Wright (Fairy Cake) and Charlotte Gomm (Fairy McLairy).

The opening scene was beautiful and introduced the baby, that would grow up to be Do-it-all Dora, who, thanks to a very clever “baby buggy” was played by Amy Hansford, both as a new born baby (think Stewie Griffin) and as an 18 year old “whirlwind”.

The Royal household were suitably regal with James Ray as King Pickle and Annette Cowell as Queen Lily. The care taken over every aspect of the production leads me to believe that their names certainly were not selected randomly. Pickle and Lily?

The third member of the household, Smithers, played by James Down was a bundle of energy, who on occasions delivered his lines with more than a passing similarity to the late great John Inman.

Tanya Horwood and Simon Page as Sleeping Beauty and Prince Dashing made a beautiful couple. Both falling in love at first sight and overcoming all the trials set before them to take us to the grand finale, which was breath-taking! Fireworks, glitter, singing. It had everything!

The script had as much for the adults as the children. The costumes scenery and props were great. One of the many highlights for me was the “duet”. Quite how Tanya, Amy and Simon managed to keep singing throughout that scene was unbelievable.

Thank you for a great day out.