The Sleeping Beauty

Date 12th December 2019
Society Woodfield Entertainers
Venue Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Tracy Gillard
Musical Director Elaine Denny
Choreographer Laura Hillier and Amalee Gamache


Author: Jon Fox

With a mere eleven strong company, it was always apparent that much of the company singing and dancing would be lacking in depth and some of the company played three roles, of necessity. Though small in number, the company threw themselves into the action with gusto and the key characters of Dame who was Queen Dorothy (Dottie), Billy the children’s friend and the villain Carabosse all projected extremely well.

Tim Waters as Queen Dottie, despite a somewhat surprising lack of face make-up imbued the Dame part with the all-important charisma and energy.  Tim wore Dame Edna type specs from “Specsavers” and some splendid costumes. I found the “slosh” kitchen scene with mere coloured paper for “slosh” fairly well done, but the “slosh” itself was rather disappointing.  There were plenty of effective ad-libs and “Oh no’s”etc, but there was a surprising lack of local topical references in Act One. Panto demands local gags!

Simon Gadd as Billy (the Royal Butler) also had a welcome and obvious extrovert stage persona, the “behind you” Zombie scene was skilfully handled, but to the accompaniment of taped chase music.   It is always a shame when funds do not run to having live music in the hall, though we all need to cut our cloth according to our means and I fully understand the reasons.

Elaine Denny was outstanding as the evil Carabosse, threatening the baby Princess and re-appearing on her eighteenth birthday to ensure the pricked finger happened, much to her obvious delight. The all-important spinning wheel did its necessary and evil deed, courtesy of Carabosse - the theatrical tension of the dread scene was much in evidence.

Director Tracy Gillard did a good job throughout in building the tension when the evil character appeared while letting the comedy scenes flow easily.

Amalee Gamache played the pretty Princess Aurora really well and Elise Denny was the thigh slapping principal boy, Prince Orlando. Their duet singing was well up to standard, though I found the first song too long. Two minutes is plenty, but more is too long,

Chris Allen was very well spoken as the rather posh King Norbert “Nobbie”.  It was a very good interpretation of the role, complete with an effective crown.  Jenny Gamache was just right as Spindleshanks the dancing and black furry cat. She matched her evil mistress very well in quality. 

A rather cute and very young Mia Gadd played Kitty the other, and good, cat and danced front of cloth.  Mia won the audience over immediately, and quite right too!

Act one was done with minimal scenery, but generally went with a swing. The dance to “Thriller”was well choreographed by Laura Hillier and Amalee Gamache, who both choreographed the show.   Elaine Denny was musical director and, though the overall singing was of various standards, the Prince and Princess both showed pleasant singing voices.

I liked the dream scene with fake instrumental playing and some excellent clowning by Dame and Billy.

Only in glorious panto-land can we fast-forward one hundred years and find “great-grandchildren” so like their “ancestors”.  The three all important Fairies, Peaceful (Neil Edwards), Beautiful (Lucy Hamilton) and Graceful (Julie Bickerdike) all did well.   Lucy and Julie dovetailed as rats and chorus and did themselves proud.  Neil as Fairy Peaceful was the main fairy role. He played this vital role for all it was worth, showcasing his own pleasant singing voice into the bargain.         

Costumes, courtesy of Denise Hillier, Sandra McGuinness and the cast were suitable, with some costumes very good. 

Lighting and sound were well used and Dominic Lawrence on lighting and Alex Willcox on sound did well.  

The song-sheet, “The Grand Old Duke of York” was successfully handled by Dame, Billy and by Kitty, but surely a few sweets, even a tube of Smarties for example, could have been given out. It is a key tradition in Panto!

All ended happily as Panto demands and a rousing finale accompanied by welcome rhyming couplets made for a fine ending to a most enjoyable evening.