The Sleeping Beauty

Date 20th December 2015
Society Bath Unity Players
Venue Kingwood School Theatre, Bath
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Katrina Cowie
Musical Director Julia Barratt
Choreographer Katrina Cowie & Deborah Curtis


Author: Dee Way

This production included everything I could have wished for in a pantomime: action, music and dance combining to create a fantasy that was as much fun as it was believable. Altogether, it was a well-integrated show that worked really well. It was well written and thought through, with new jokes, slap stick and songs, and good organisation of scene changes, mood changes and fun. I loved the inclusion of the decorating scene with all the attendant imaginable mishaps!

The Direction (by the author) introduced several very good touches, such as the costumes showing the fashion change over 100 years, from 1820s to 1920s. The princes coming from various parts of the world was innovative, while the mature fairies were lovely! I liked the idea of putting bowls of cake mix into the oven and getting out a decorated three-layered cake. I also liked the realism of children growing up as shown in the film on the backcloth.  

The opening era and atmosphere were well set by the spinning wheel depicted on the curtain, and the incidental music. The lighting was excellent – supporting but not dictating – and the sound was very good overall. I liked the drum and keyboard effects, from fairy tinkle to Carabosse (thunder) warning - with lightning. The scene changes were covered by events front of stage effectively on the whole, so audience interest was maintained at all times. 

The set comprised mostly flats for wings and projected scenes on a back screen. This was very effective in creating the castle, the thorny forest and the turret room with the spinning wheel. The use of a front gauze enhanced the production by creating some very good effects and hiding the scene changes. The projection of the image of castle walls onto gauze was particularly well done. The moving of flats was well done on the whole, although moving them across the stage once seemed odd.

Lighting was exceptionally good, with lighting cues well met and effects used to good effect. Sound was also very good, and the effect of thunder and lightning was very realistic. The costumes were stunning, with the Dame’s clothes being bright and gaudy and with several changes for everyone. The fairies were colour-co-ordinated, while the progression of the cast from Georgian to Flapper was lovely! 

The dancing was excellent and fitted into the production seamlessly. The choreography was unusual and worked very well. The cobweb dance I felt was particularly good. The dancers added greatly to the dramatic effect of the show, with all the different styles of dance used.

The casting was good, with nice contrasts in characters. The Dame was given the believable role of nurse to Princess Rosamond. This was a good loud character who delivered his lines and jokes well and commanded the stage. The good fairies were lovely, with each having their own character:  Sunburst was calm really well; Amethyst was more lively and unpredictable; Blossom was a dreamer; Melody was a scatterbrain who was always late. Carabosse, the bad fairy, was totally believable and her solo ‘I Hate People’ was very good! Her movements and voice were excellent, as was her redemption at the end – a very different ending for the character!

King Hubert (Steve Barratt) played the king to good effect, while Queen Sophia was well played and looked the part. Princess Rosamond was well cast and played her part very effectively. To lie still on the couch while the princes tried to wake her must have been quite tricky, but beautifully done. Pip the gardener’s son was nicely understated in her role, and fulfilled the character well while Silly Simon played his part very well indeed. His connection to the audience was excellent, as was his timing. The Chamberlain was suitably haughty and obsequious.

The Chorus were very good in supporting the leads and making the show realistic and believable.  They each gave the impression of being a separate character, and maintained it well. The singing was good and had pace. They created a wonderful party atmosphere several times that the audience very much enjoyed. 

The standard of the whole production was very high. This was a show you should all be proud of and I look forward to seeing Katrina’s next effort!