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Tuesday, 22 December 2020

REVIEW: Sleeping Beauty at the Mayflower in Southampton

Michael Harrison and QDOS’s bold plan to stage 10 pantomimes in a Covid safe way around the country this Christmas largely underwritten by the National Lottery was thrown into despairing disarray by tier 3 announcements as they prepared to open. Three opened one of which was closed shortly afterwards so only Plymouth (see earlier review) and Sleeping Beauty at the Mayflower in Southampton will run their planned course. But if you live in a Tier 2 area along the south coast you should make every effort to get along to see Sleeping Beauty. It is a joyous timely reminder of the Christmas family festive outing that Pantomime provides, and, on the day, the South East went into Tier 4 lockdown provides as welcome glimmer of hope for 2021 that theatres can and will reopen.  

Sleeping Beauty is often one of the weaker titles in the Pantomime season, but this stripped-down 90-minute version devised by Harrison himself suits the format perfectly and provides a linking narrative to some brilliantly executed traditional pantomime routines full of silly, madcap entertainment that had the socially distanced audience giggling away almost constantly. It helps that its stars have strong cabaret routines that they effortlessly fitted into the story as well as a lot of pantomime experience between them and are supported by a hard-working strong ensemble cast.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

REVIEW: Sleeping Beuaty at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

Some of the best pantomimes are created where the creative team return and seek to build and improve on prior years rather than simply replicate their previous successes in a formulaic way and Guildford’s returning team have once again achieved that.

Jamie Smith (6th Yvonne Arnaud Pantomime) has given this version of Sleeping Beauty a very modern Eco warrior feel with the Prince a video blogger campaigning for less plastic and a greener world and his Princess Aurora a physicist inventing a time travel machine, a modern medieval maiden. It gives the show a fresh feel, although it never really reconciles its setting in thirteenth century with the smart phone live streaming! 

Choreographer Katie Beard (two previous Yvonne Arnaud pantomimes) gets the show of to a great start with "Flash Bang Wallop" with new words to introduce all the characters in the story, the ensemble and juvenile team. Throughout the show there are lively well drilled routines including an excellent fun Dance off and an evil "Poison” under the musical supervision of Anthony England (4th year) and MD Bryan Hodgson (three previous pantomimes).
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