Sleeping Beauty

Date 10th January 2014
Society Caprian Theatre Company
Venue Dryden Centre, Gateshead
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Jeff Waites
Musical Director Enid Stafford
Choreographer Cheryl Hewitt


Author: Gordon Richardson

Pantomimes are a traditional start to the new year for many societies, Caprian included, and this was a fine example of the art with all elements provided, including ‘daft lads’, dame, fairy ‘protector’, villain, and slapstick.

Introducing herself as the villainous Carabosse, with her (as described in the programme) ‘thick as a brick’ assistant, Gripes, were Kim Robinson and Colin Gray respectively, as they anticipated the Princess Aurora’s 18th birthday. Both villains got the show off to a good start as they cajoled the children (and many adult children too) in the audience to boo and hiss although this was ultimately dismissively ignored by Carabosse.  Gripes, looking like a mixture of Richard III and Quasimodo came across well with his ‘Black Country’ accent.

In a flashback scene to the princess’s christening, her parent’s King Clarence and Queen Claribel (David Charlton and Pam Dias), started the celebrations by accepting gifts of spells led by the Lilac Fairy (Cheryl Hewitt.)  A spell of ‘dying from a needle prick of a spinning wheel before her 18th birthday’ was cast by Carabosse, and whereupon the Lilac Fairy modified the spell to that of sleeping for 100 years before the kiss of a truly loved Prince would awaken the Princess.

‘Protecting’ the princess were Sir Round and Sir Render (Simon Devlin and Sam Monkhouse) who were ill-suited to the task, especially when ‘assisted’ by Nanny Flora (Kevin Riley) and her sleepy son Willie (Steve Nicol).  This quartet was responsible for providing much of the slapstick and firing up the younger element of the audience – especially Nanny with her outrageous costumes and equally outrageously corny humour.  Her sleepy son, Willie, had the children of the audience ‘trained’ to awaken him every time he fell asleep (often) which they did with gusto. Adding to the quartet in the ‘hapless helpers’ category was the Court Chamberlain (Russell Rafferty) whose characterisation as a doddering old retainer was simply a master class.  Russell also doubled up in the second act as Nanny’s Scottish brother, ‘Uncle McTavish’, as a ‘tall tale’ story teller.  Alongside Nanny and Willie, they ‘persuaded’ children from the audience onto stage to provide the actions to Uncle McTavish’s story to great effect. The quintet’s ‘Bluebell Girls’ dance near the end of the show may well have mentally scarred me for life, but was a show stopper – and I have to say boys, very well drilled!!!

The 18 years old Princess Aurora (Helen McKenry) and her future husband Prince Damion (Lindsay Kellegher) were well matched together and, with their respective friends Julia (Becca Plumley) and Valentine (Rexine Perry) provided a double wedding to end the production.
Staging was good with a nice set (albeit the draw cloth of the forest seemed as though it were ‘enchanted’ at times), costumes by Molly Limpet were excellent, musical trio under Enid Stafford well controlled, production well directed by Jeff Waites, and dancing troupe (adult as well as juveniles from Eve Trew School of Dance) were well accomplished under the choreography of Cheryl Hewitt. This was my first panto of 2014 and it was a pleasure to watch.
Well done Caprians