As a half term holiday treat, I took my little scholars to see Sleeping Beauty at St Helens Theatre Royal.
Well I say took the kids, but it was just as much for me as for them! I love pantos because you don’t have to worry about the kids making too much noise or fidgeting. In fact, they are actively encouraged to let rip and St Helens is no exception.
Regal Entertainments always put on a traditional family panto with a modern twist and plenty of audience participation. My little monkeys screamed themselves hoarse with all the “boos” and “it’s behind yous” – oh yes they did!
We’ve been to see a few pantos in St Helens now and I can honestly say they are my favourite. As soon as that curtain goes up, I feel relaxed and in safe hands because I know they’re going to put on a brilliant show with all the right ingredients – dazzling dancing and stunning scenery to colourful costumes, explosive pyrotechnics and silly slapstick comedy.
The panto opens with a colourful village scene. What always impresses me is the dancers – from young to senior, they’re all step perfect and totally in sync. Their energy and smiles are infectious and set the scene for a wonderful show.
Producer Chantelle Nolan is skilled at assembling a strong cast and although I missed some of my SHTR favourites, the new faces didn’t disappoint.
Laura Gregory makes a sweet but not too sickly Princess Aurora, Tam Ryan had the whole audience in stitches as Chester the Jester “alright chucky egg?” Meanwhile, Scouse panto stalwart Roy Brandon and Shameless actor sidekick Warren Donnelly bring laughs aplenty as Dame Queenie and King Ethelred. Jess Pritchard is the fizzy Lilac Fairy (think Bubbles from Ab Fab) and Corey Rumble, the strapping Prince.
There’s always a celebrity to add a touch of glamour to the proceedings and this show is no exception with Liverpool performer and West End star Claire Sweeney cutting a sultry dash in a sizzling scarlet gown as the evil fairy Carabosse.
Sleeping Beauty awakens the enchanting tale of Princess Aurora, who is cursed by the evil fairy Carabosse after failing to receive an invite to the Royal Christening, claiming that if the Princess pricks her finger, she will die.
Years later at her 16th birthday, Aurora is tricked into piercing her finger on a spinning wheel by the evil fairy. After the curse is countered by the Lilac Fairy, Aurora instead falls into a deep and eternal slumber, which can only be broken by a kiss from her true love.
Will the beautiful princess find her true love and be freed from the evil fairy’s curse?
This superb family panto takes you on a magical adventure with lots of unadulterated daftness and near the knuckle innuendo for the grown-ups which goes straight over the little cherubs’ heads.
My highlights included the surprisingly sweet vocals of Fairy Lilac and the hilarious spoof of a famous Irish dancing show – more Stavros Flatley than Michael.
So set your alarms and get yourself down to St Helens Theatre Royal this October half term for a fabulous fun family show. If you snooze you lose!
Sleeping Beauty runs until Sunday 29 October. For more information visit the website here