The Sleeping Beauty

Date 7th January 2022
Society Tynemouth Priory Theatre
Venue Tynemouth Priory Theatre
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Beccy Gilmore
Musical Director Susie Jones
Choreographer Viv Greener
Producer Tynemouth Priory Theatre
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Author: Ken Allan

This was my second visit to Tynemouth Priory Theatre Group this season following their long-awaited return from the Covid Pandemic. We ventured out on a cold and frosty winter’s evening to see their Annual Panto THE SLEEPING BEAUTY – this being the first time I have seen this Pantomime. Our visit was more than worthwhile.

It was patently obvious that this group had suffered during the rehearsal period; having to replace several members of their cast due to the Pandemic and only having a full rehearsal three times prior to the show opening. BUT… well done to the whole cast and crew for overcoming the difficulties this presented, by providing the almost full auditorium with an enthralling night’s entertainment.

In the absence of any programmes (due to… guess what!! This wretched virus…) their wonderful Director Beccy Gilmore provided me with the information I needed, along with some ‘inside’ info on the comings and goings of the personnel. So - congratulations to the two fairies - Seaton Suze – beautifully played by Cerys Jones, and the comedic Stella – played by Laila McKale, who stepped into their parts as late as last Sunday (five days before curtain up) and also King Bumble - Jon Mills and Nice But Prim - Lizzie Lerpiniere; two members of the Court who assumed their parts about three weeks ago. Well done all of you !.

Apart from the ‘late-comers’, there were some excellent performances from faces ‘old’ and new led by family duo Stu Bowman as Nurse Nelly and Helen his wife in the romantic role of Prince Desmond. Carabosse – expertly and classically played by Sarah Doyle and the hapless Devilish – David Cooper - extracted exactly the right reaction from the audience and were definitely ‘booable’. Newcomers (to me) Leah Marshall as the beautiful Princess Molly and Rachel Hardy as the magnetic comedy lead Geordie, were also excellent in their portrayal and characterisations. Two names for the future.

The mainly pre-recorded music was in the very capable hands of MD Susie Jones; who conducted the singing from both principals and chorus extremely well from the pit. (The only problem I had was that, at times, the volume of the music was not loud enough – probably not Suzie’s fault though… maybe just first night technical adjustments required).

The technical team of Andy and Thomas Gilmore (Set, Stage Management and Sound), Matthew and Tony Hall with assistance from Richard Hay (Lighting) made up the rest of the family connections. The in-house costumes and scenery were also a great addition.

Choreography and dancing was, once again, in the capable hands of Viv Greener and Stages School of Dance. Their involvement was very well integrated with the story and was a complimentary factor to the show; with some excellent movement and showing off their prowess in all of the aspects of dance.

This panto contained all of the ingredients of a wonderful family show; as attested by the audience’s reaction, and a standing ovation complemented the Company at the end of the finale.

Thanks and congratulations to the whole Team – far too many to mention. My companion and I enjoyed a wonderful night’s entertainment. Thanks for the invitation.