SLEEPING BEAUTY: till 31 January.

SLEEPING BEAUTY: Michael Harrison / Olly Ashmore
Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham
Runs: 2h 45m, one interval, till Sun 31 January 2010.
Review: Alexander Ray, 21 December 2009

Never a dull moment.
More traditional a pantomime than last year’s ROBIN HOOD, this SLEEPING BEAUTY is an even more stunning production than those that preceded it. From the thrilling opening of Carabosse, the wicked enchantress, floating in a pitch-black void the pace never lets up. We are treated to a series of vigorous – not to say eccentric at times – performances, a clear story, and a staggering array of exciting effects.

Joe Pasquale heads up the performance team. He is, as ever, incredibly energised and has that rare gift of truly bridging the gap between adult and children’s humour. And there are many flashes of real genius – as when answering Lady Passionella’s innocent ‘What’s been going on?’ His humour is diamond bright whether replaying old favourites (like the pet flea) or jokes at our expense.

Ceri Dupree, female impersonator (something delightfully innocent about that isn’t there?) extraordinaire, lives up to every inch of his reputation as ‘the most glamourous dame in the world’ and offers some very funny impersonations. Top of my favourites has to be the Camilla P-Bowles number, saying what most of us think, but very few would be able to set to music.

Lucy Evans creates a lively and friendly Princess Beauty with Ria Jones a tough and sassy Carabosse. She is ably assisted by her son, Slimeball – Alex Woodhall.

This is not a mere extravaganza; it is truly a beautifully designed, costumed and lit theatrical thrill. Olly Ashmore’s score and lyrics, and Michael Harrison’s direction ensure that the pace never falters. And hear the children squeal with delight at the 3D Interactive sequences.

I’m personally delighted that the moment when children are invited on stage is gone. The pre-walk-down spot is given to Muddles (Joe P), Slimeball, Passionella and King Clarence who create a unique version of The Twelve Days of Christmas . . . bloody hilarious, and I’m sure it’ll grow.

As Churchill, the dog, (who makes a brief appearance) would say: ‘Oh yes!’

(Credits will follow.)

2009-12-22 10:13:17

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