BWW Review: SLEEPING BEAUTY: THE ROCK 'N' ROLL PANTO, Theatr Clwyd
It's that time of year again... panto season. Oh no it isn't. Oh yes it is.
Sleeping Beauty at Theatr Clwyd begins with the cast in the audience dressed as fairies, with bubbles blowing everywhere, much to the delight of the audience. But from the moment the first song starts playing, performed live by the actors on stage, the whole performance steps up a notch and becomes an entirely more sophisticated production.
The show tells the story of Princess Susie (Elian West), and how she was cursed by evil fairy Morgana (Lynwen Haf Roberts). When the fairies are on stage, everything is very charmingly spoken in rhyme. And being a very self-aware production, this becomes a point of humour later on.
Learning lines is one thing, but learning choreography, songs and remembering the music to rock songs on six different instruments is a task many would hide from. Not the cast of Sleeping Beauty. Each member of the cast takes on this task without blinking an eye, morphing from saxophone player to fairy to keyboardist with complete ease.
A standout performance is given by Emmy Stonelake as the lovable fairy apprentice Frederica, immediately charming the audience with her clumsiness, sass and determination. But the real showstopper comes when she sings a phenomenal version of "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder - a daunting song to take on at the best of times, let alone whilst dressed as a fairy. However, she blows the audience away with her note-perfect rendition. Equally impressive is the moment she pulls out a harp to add a beautifully fairy tale sound to the music.
Writer Peter Rowe and director Zoe Waterman manage to keep the humour of the genre alive, whilst also perfectly showcasing the amount of talent on the stage. Nothing feels cheap, or forced to get a few laughs. Even jokes that could come across as crude are timed perfectly and feel completely natural.
This could also be down to Sean McKenzie as Nurse Tabetha Trott. His script is hilarious and his ad-libs and facial expressions even more so. He gets the audience involved in the show, letting them in on the jokes and making them feel like a friend. A fantastic skill to posses as an actor.
The chemistry between West, as Princess Susie, and her love interest Simon Steadfast, appealingly played by James Ifan, is lovely to watch. They portray their innocent characters delightfully, with a few heartwarming duets throughout.
The costumes, designed by Adrian Gee and made by Deborah Knight, are spot on, particularly those of Nurse Tabetha; everyone waits to see what over-the-top outfit will be next. The matching shoes and aprons are adorable and very fairy-like, and also give a modern feel to the show.
The blast back to the Sixties is also well executed through the outfits. From the white platform boots to the headbands and bouffants (from Jo Best, Wigs and Hair Supervisor), the place is buzzing with throwback feels.
From the very start, the show is full to the brim with energy, talent and fabulous music. The whole Sleeping Beauty team have really outdone themselves with such a stellar performance. One for the Theatr Clwyd history books for certain.
Photo Credit: Brian Roberts