Written by Liam Mellor
St Helens Theatre Royal
Saturday 19 October 2019 - Tuesday 29 October 2019
The Theatre Royal in St Helens and Regal Entertainments continue their welcome tradition of producing pantomimes outside the festive season with Sleeping Beauty for the October half term. The much-loved tale of beautiful princess Aurora, cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel by evil fairy Carabosse and sleep for a hundred years, is brought to life by a hard-working cast - with all the requisite panto elements like glitter, songs and bags of audience participation. Familiar faces in the cast include St Helens resident dame Si Foster, a good-humoured figure for whom the audience clearly has real affection. As always, Foster has great rapport with comic Lewis Devine (Chester the Jester), a now familiar face in Theatre Royal pantos and a clear audience favourite. His scene with the children from the audience on stage was as funny as you’d hope. Samantha Palin is impressive as baddie Carabosse, striding about the stage and delivering one-liners as wicked as her character. Clearly having bags of fun being the baddie, she almost made you root for Team Carabosse. Mia Molloy and James Lacey play it straight as love’s young dream Aurora and the Prince, both bringing likeability and great vocals to the stage. Making up the principal cast are Warren Donnelly as the King and Abigail Middleton as Fairy Sparkle, with the latter getting to sparkle indeed, making the most of the spotlight at the end of of Act 1 with a powerhouse rendition of When You Believe for a charming transformation scene. A good panto, in my eyes, is one where I spend quite a bit of the show watching my little boy’s reaction to the on-stage action, and happily he was fully immersed in this show - booing, cheering, singing and laughing. His favourite bit? The “rude” nursery rhymes had him and the other young audience members in hysterics. Sleeping Beauty (directed by Chantelle Nolan, dance by Sarah Walker and music supervised by Callum Clarke) is a cheerful, crowd-pleasing affair performed and received with warmth. As always at the Theatre Royal, ticket prices are commendably affordable. Up next for Christmas at the venue is Aladdin starring Strictly professional dancer Robin Windsor: we are looking forward to it already.
:: One cautionary note for parents of younger children at the theatre: you can no longer borrow booster seats and must purchase an inflatable one (£5). Just something to consider when deciding where to sit if you are with younger children and don’t want to shell out.