Sleeping Beauty

Date 27th January 2024
Society Spittal Variety Group
Venue The Show-Bar Berwick Holiday Park
Type of Production Pantomime
Director John Mabon
Musical Director Aubrey Sanderson
Choreographer Jennifer, Emma Jane, Denise, Fiona. (The Darcys)
Producer Susan Whyte
Written By Alan Frayn


Author: Sue Wood

This was my first visit to Spittal Variety Group and the societies first performance at the Berwick Holiday Park which proved to be a perfect venue for this pantomime. I received a warm welcome from The Societies President Marion Pringle. This was their third staging of Sleeping Beauty, the last being in 2007.

At this afternoon’s matinee performance, the audience were transported into the tale we all know so well but with a “twist” that only pantomime can get away with. The twist in the story is that on her 18th birthday Sleeping Beauty does not die after pricking her finger on the spinning wheel but falls into an enchanted sleep for 100 years. The sleeping scene and the awakening is supported by Rainbow Fairies who were enchanting.  The Director John Mabon and Producer Susan Whyte successfully gave us an afternoon of entertainment with lots of laughs.

Commendation has to go to Muddles, the palace handyman, played by Jonathan Scott. His smile beamed throughout the show as he played to the audience ensuring that each time, he appeared the audience shouted “Muddles don’t get muddled.” If the audience response was not delivered enthusiastically then he whipped off stage and reappeared to an emboldened shout that met his expectations of a pantomime audience.

Ian Little played the role of the pantomime Dame as Nurse Hetty Harpic. He gave an impressive performance and has the gift of being able to engage with both children and adults in the audience. One gentleman in the audience sitting behind me had “his life taken” by Hetty Harpic throughout the show and judging by his laughs he loved it. Hetty Harpic’s costumes were both colourful and varied. His references to localities near to Berwick clearly excited the audience. Hetty Harpic led the singalong with Muddles and they split the audience into two halves to promote competition which resulted in very loud audience participation.

The King, played by Matthew Cooper and Queen Marigold, played by Diane Renner were well cast in their roles and successfully played their parts as doting parents to Sleeping Beauty. Minnie Cooper was cast as the young Princess Rose and she was as every young princess should be sweet and innocent.

Georgia Young was outstanding in her role as Bad Witch Hazel. She played the villainous role to perfection and attracted the boos and hisses all villains deserve. She clearly has vocal talent and powerfully performed Screw Loose from the show Cry Baby at her cauldron where the witches made stew from eyeballs, fingers, pig’s brains, lizards and winged bats.  Well done Georgia.

Our grown-up Princess Rose was Emma Beveridge and Prince Alexis was played by Hannah Bass. Both had real charm and the audience warmed to their enthusiasm in playing their roles. There duet of the song Somewhere Only We Know set the scene for this love story and was sung with emotional feeling .

Tiana Bettison played good Fairy Lilac and she was beautifully adorned as she led us through the pathway of hope for Sleeping Beauty.

A mention must go to the Messengers Fetch and Carry played by Kate Bidwell and Fiona Dunn. The pair played their comic role brilliantly and their dual story telling, aligned to places we are all familiar with, gave the issuing of invitations to the christening of sleeping beauty delightful entertainment that the audience loved.  

The 7-person band performed 31 pieces of music that kept the pantomime alive and entertaining. There is nothing quite like live music and their dedication to rehearsals showed. The scenery was colourful and effective and with the help of technology brought the stage to life.

The whole performance showcased what a polished society Spittal Variety Group are and why they are a NODA Award Winning Society. Well done and thankyou to everyone involved.