Oh no it isn't, Oh yes it is; It's Sleeping Beauty.

Sleeping Beauty
Theatre Severn

Pantomime is such a difficult discipline to get right. When it isn’t right it’s noticed when its spot on it isn’t noticed, just enjoyed.

Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Severn ‘s offering this year, gladly falls into the latter category and Evolution Productions can relax knowing that their production is as good as any other year’s show. And let’s face it the bar has been set very high by previous successes.

Observing all the conventions of a traditional panto, Sleeping Beauty relied on the past formula of keeping spending down on cast to plough funds into effects and the spectacle in general. It is a proven formula and is partly key to the success of this highly entertaining show.

The best effect was a dragon that had the ability to reach out to the front row and breathe smoke onto the hapless audience members. Hilarious.

It wasn’t all plain sailing however and the first two songs were disappointing. Offered up by the extremely theatrically trained voice of Ella Vize, the songs were vacuous and dubiously written. They lacked content and purpose and the top notes, although reached, were a little piercing. This might have been the soundmen using too much top or it could be that the voice was being pushed too much.

However the first two songs notwithstanding the rest of the show was a pure delight. The bar had not only been reached but cleared with feet to spare.

Shropshire’s own omnipresent Eric Smith put in a magical performance as King Eric, Beauty’s father. He played his part with not only humour, but offered a sensitivity rarely seen on the set of a panto. When he was pondering the fate of his daughter one felt a sense of pity and sorrow for him which placed the character firmly in the hearts of the crowd.

Brad Fitt’s Nurse Nell is also worth special mention as he played the best pantomime Dame that this critic has ever seen. He was brilliant; and complimented beautifully with the costumes that seem to grow wackier with each change. Such talent is rare to see from the Dame, who is after all integral to the tradition.

The whole cast, the dancers and musicians worked beautifully well together to present this excellent show.

The most important cast member is, of course, the audience and they performed their part beautifully. Reacting to the deliciously wicked Rachael Barrington’s Caraboose and the affable Adam Moss as Jangles, it was clear that every audience member was delighted by what they were seeing.

The message of panto is always positive. Good always triumphs over bad and the baddies always get their come-uppance. If only life was more like that. Seeing the stressed faces of Christmas shoppers on Pride Hill one realises that we need more happiness and more cheer throughout the year and we would do well to apply the rules that good always triumphs….if only.

However with all that good in mind I wish to offer you season’s greetings and wish for you a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

This is a five star review.

Owen Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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