ONCE UPON a time on a cold, moonlit night, hundreds of little people (and many who were not so little) gathered in a faraway place (well, central Swindon) to see if they could conjure up some of some Christmas spirit… writes Fiona Scott.
To get the party started those little people needed a little help – help from a special group of colourful characters. The characters had been secretly worked hard for weeks and weeks, night and day, to bring the magic of Christmas to life…
In other words, hundreds of children, parents, grandparents went along to Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre on Tuesday (December 15) to enjoy one of the first performances of this year’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty.
And they weren’t disappointed – for the performance contained everything you want: dancing, singing, over-the-top glamour, terrible jokes and audience participation all wrapped up in a traditional fairy tale.
The star of the show was actor Lorraine Chase, right, as Carabosse, the evil fairy. Wow, what an evil fairy – stunning looks, stunning costumes, all the right phrases, all the right pauses – with a liberal sprinkling of the Lorraine that many of us remember from her Campari days. Her one singing number was not the best in the world (Beat It by Michael Jackson), but a little bluebird told me she’d been suffering from a throat infection.
However, there were other bright lights. Muddles (Jon Trenchard), below with Carabosse, entertained everyone with his awful jokes (look out for the brussels sprout one!) and his sing-a-long catchphrase – but I don’t want to give too much away. Suffice to say, he’s worth waiting for.
Also watch out for Dame Nanny Fanny played by Alan McMahon. Not being a particular fan of the pantomime dame, I could almost feel myself cringing at the thought of what the Dame might inflict. And for poor Ian in the front row, wearing an “off-orange” jumper, some embarrassment was evident when he became the object of her affections. But she totally won me over – look out for the gorillas and the water pistols!
I don’t want to give the impression that the other performances weren’t good – Beauty (Ceri-Lyn Cissone) did all that was expected, the Prince (Edd Post) started slow but warmed up as did King Stefan (Michael Cantwell). The prize for the strongest voice went to Fairy Fortune (Melanie Masson) – sometimes her voice was so powerful, you felt you needed to turn the bass down.
The beginning of Act Two in particular was simple but fabulous. The music was up-to-date and real effort had been made to make the show feel like it belonged to Swindon.
Surely though, the test for any pantomime has to be – did the children feel the magic? My companion (aged eight) came out of the show saying she wanted to be Beauty and she felt the Prince was truly Charming. She was also very quiet on the way home, entertained and exhausted – job done!
SLEEPING BEAUTY runs at the Wyvern Theatre until Sunday January 10. If you don’t go you’ll miss a true treat!