Sleeping Beauty

Date 28th October 2016
Society Wetherby Musical Theatre Group
Venue Wetherby High School
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Judith Smith
Musical Director Nick Eastwood
Choreographer Sarah Rivers


Author: Terry Harrison

It may be something to do with the way in which it breaks the so-called “fourth wall” but I have to confess that pantomime is not my favourite genre, which is rather sad since, like many of us, it was probably my first introduction to theatre-going as a child.  This, however, was a production which went a long way towards removing some of my previous reservations.

All the usual ingredients were there as we learned the familiar tale, this time set in the kingdom of Ballysilly, apparently the historic name of Wetherby.  Fairies good and bad, the latter played with appropriate malice by Miranda Thew, were supported by a chorus of children and townspeople as the production made its way through a succession of relatively well-known songs dating from the 1950s to the present day, all well sung by various members of the cast.  The task of providing comedy moments was handled with confidence by the agent from MI5 posing as a court jester (Susan Riley) and, more particularly, Dame Dotty Dooright, better known as Dame Double D. Marie Clinker excelled in this role by injecting local, topical references and successfully breaking down that wall between stage and audience.  There was never any problem that the traditional male “Dame” was absent here, although the usual thigh-slapping principal boy part, with Emma Oxtoby in the role, took the form of Victor as the companion to the eponymous Princess, sweetly played by Hannah Harrison. The all-important kiss from the Prince was expertly delivered by James Gray.

Special mention must be made of the excellent costumes (some 84 in all, I understand) under the expert care of Enid Doyle who also found time to be part of the stage crew responsible for handling a cleverly-designed set - and to celebrate a birthday with appropriate audience participation on the night I attended.  The U.V. ballet which opened the second act and featured various creatures of the forest was very impressive, even if the snail did perhaps overdo its inclination to take its time to cross the stage and needed some assistance in completing the task. But this is pantomime and it all adds to the fun.

Over the years this group has tackled theatre in many of its forms providing great enjoyment to audiences and members alike and this was no exception.  A “straight” play is planned for the next production and I look forward to hearing the choice and then seeing a performance.