Sleeping Beauty

Date 27th January 2024
Society Northallerton Amateur Variety Company
Venue The Forum, Northallerton
Type of Production Pantomime
Director James Cornick
Musical Director Maeve Hird
Choreographer Becky Porter


Author: Richard Hamilton-Leighton

I eagerly anticipated attending the performance of "Sleeping Beauty" by the Northallerton Amateur Variety Company at the Northallerton Forum. This marked my first visit to the society. Pantomime, a beloved British theatrical tradition, holds a special place in my heart, providing a platform for communities, particularly younger members of the company, to make their stage debut.

"Sleeping Beauty" recounts the timeless fairy tale of Princess Beauty, whose joyous birth is marred by the wicked fairy Carabosse’s curse, foretelling her slumber upon pricking her finger. Despite the efforts of the good fairy ‘Fairy Nuff ’to mitigate the curse, Beauty falls into an enchanted sleep on her sixteenth birthday. Prince Michael embarks on a quest to break the curse. The narrative culminates in the climactic moment when true love's kiss has the power to awaken the sleeping princess after time traveling 100 years into the future, making the story a captivating blend of love, magic, and the triumph of good over evil.

"Princess Beauty," the titular character came to life through the talented portrayal of Jess Stamper. With a combination of a strong and captivating vocal presence and impeccable acting charm, Jess embodied Princess Beauty with panache. This was beautifully complemented by the talents of Adele McNally in the role of “Prince Michael”. Adele's strong vocal prowess and impeccable choreography skills shone through, providing a powerful and dynamic support to the production.

Magic came alive in the production through the contrasting performances of the good fairy "Fairy Nuff" (played by Kimmi Chapman) and the wicked Witch Carabosse (played by Tracie Birdsall). Carabosse skillfully earned boos from the audience, while Fairy Nuff, with grace and charm, not only narrated the plot but also counteracted the villain's malevolence. The dynamic between these characters, portrayed by talented actresses, added depth to the magical atmosphere, creating an engaging and memorable experience for the audience.

Carabosse”, found support in her mischievous accomplices “Bumble” (played by Sophie McGlynn) and “Ramble” (played by Phil Bargewell). Together, they formed an entertaining evil duo, captivating the audience with their witty one-liners and infectious energy. The comedic dynamic was appreciated alongside their mischievous energy.

The true highlights of the show were undoubtedly the comedic talents of “Nurse Nellie”, portrayed by Nik Browne, and “Silly Billy”, brought to life by Nigel Thomsen. These adept actors not only embraced their roles with precision but also demonstrated a mastery of pantomime that could rival professional actors. A testament to their comedic prowess was the uproarious and creatively executed “baking a cake” scene, leaving the audience in stitches. Kudos to both Nik Browne and Nigel Thomsen for delivering performances that not only stole the spotlight but also added a layer of humour and brilliance to the production. Well done indeed!

Queen Tetley” (played by Lisa Walton) and “King Typhoo” (played by Stan Parry) brought royal charm and humour to the production, skilfully infusing their 'tea'-themed characters with delightful comedic moments that were consistently appreciated by the audience.

No show would be effective unless it has an ensemble to support. This ensemble both children and adults brought energy and pace to the musical numbers in the show. Their dancing was slick and in sync and everyone seemed present and engaged – well done.

The cast were supported by a four-piece band who managed to create a wonderful sound within the space given their size. The band and the cast were supported by musical director Maeve Hird who managed to get the best sound out of these actors and musicians – well done. It was evident though the presence of pace, and delivery that the directing was also effective, well done to James Cornick.

Overall, a superb example of a traditional pantomime – you know you have done well already by the reaction you received from your audience, however, please note how much I enjoyed “Sleeping Beauty” and I eagerly await my next invitation.