Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Panto delivers traditional festive fare

Jiggles the jester  (Dexter Whitehead), Lord Bumblemore (Mark Nattrass) and Nanny Night-Nurse (Richard Aucott) decide on the best course of action for Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Sutton Arts Theatre


NOTHING delights more than the laughter of children and there was certainly plenty of that as we visited Suttonia, the fairytale home of Princess Aurora in Sutton Arts Theatre's pantomime, Sleeping Beauty. This is a show for children and parents alike.

Sleeping Beauty is traditional pantomime full of traditional characters with the heroine, the hero, the villain and side kick, good guys and clowns.

Local children enthusiastically showcase their dancing and acting, popular songs, bad jokes, good ones too, lots of audience participation  and, of course, the dame. 

Richard Aucott writer, producer and the ‘female' lead is a gifted comedy writer and, as Nanny Night-Nurse, gives a performance to rival that of Biggins.

Nanny's spectacular and imaginative character costumes alone are worth seeing.   We are given Dorothy (complete with Toto), Sandy and even a bouquet of flowers; all with shoes to match.  Aucott is resplendent in his butterfly number in the finale.   

The show opens with the villain of the piece, the cunning and stunning Fairy Fag-Ash (director, Emily Armstrong) dramatically setting the scene, raising boos and hisses from the excited boys and girls. ‘Oh shad ap!' she sneers, creating even more boos.  Her sidekick, James Hutt is suitably dastardly and raises a similar reaction from all.

Fairy Fag-Ash (Emily Armstrong) is set to cast an evil spell

The good guys are fairy godmothers Flora, Fauna and Fungus.  Fairies always speak in rhyme you know, but the funky Fungus just hasn't quite got it yet.

We meet our heroine, Sleeping Beauty, as a babe in the cradle. The grown up princess is played so delicately by Elvie Broom that she could have just stepped out of Disney.

Dexter Whitehead and Mark Nattrass delight the audience and are immense fun clowning around as Jiggles the Jester and Lord Bumblemore.  Jiggles is the focus of Nanny's romantic attentions and she finally gets her man in a funny and bizarre performance of ‘You're the one that I want'.

Joseph Hicklin, plays Aurora's betrothed, Prince William, with suitable self-importance and narcissism.   There was some surprise as the fickle prince runs off with Snow White. “I thought this was Sleeping Beauty” commented one bemused little boy.

There was rousing support for Tomos Frater as Prince Harry, Aurora's true love, as he fights the dragon on his travels to release his beautiful princess from Fag-Ash's spell.

Whilst delighting the children, the traditional shower of sweeties did make me wince somewhat as packets of chocolate buttons were scattered into the audience – I anticipated paper cuts and tears - but thankfully there were none.

The scenery is very traditional, mostly well depicted backdrops, but we are treated to some clever puppetry as we travel through time.  This is very well done.  However, what the images represented was not always clear.  

And I mustn't forget the band who did a great job.

I never cease to be amazed at the wealth of talent in ‘amateur' theatre and this show is testament to that.  A great show. Do catch it if you can. To 17-12-11

Lynda Ford

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