Pantomime season is back and Nottingham Playhouse is delivering a potentially perfect production. The performance was perfect in the sense of a traditional pantomime, because let’s face it – panto isn’t anything without the spontaneous and unexpected one-liners.
The show is introduced by a short rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Waltz (also recognised as Once Upon a Dream from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty). You couldn’t help smile at hearing this and Kenneth Alan Taylor, director and writer, has clearly used Disney as his main inspiration, but not just in adapting the classic tale. Taylor cleverly plays on the popularity of their newest animated movie Frozen choosing to feature one song as a love duet between the Princess Rosalind (Kelly Edwards) and Prince Alexander (Jonny Fines) – one that had all the girls in the auditorium joyously singing along. Also the play begins with Jerry the Jester, played by Tim Frater, introducing himself in typical panto style with a fabulous rendition of Pharrell Williams’ Happy that immediately had the audience clapping and foot tapping. The audience had a part to play from the beginning by helping Jerry sing the song and, in my opinion, it was the best way to start a pantomime.
My favourite part about this year’s dame was her use of common northern greetings; example: ‘Ayup me duck’.
Whilst no actor was mediocre there were definitely standout performances this year. The first was Nurse Tilly Trott, played by John Elkington: a return performer to the Nottingham Playhouse pantomime. He did not disappoint in eliciting many laughs from not only the audience but also his fellow actors, who just couldn’t keep from breaking character. Moreover, my favourite part about this year’s dame was her use of common northern greetings; example: ‘Ayup me duck’.Now, the dame is usually the one performer you can expect to be comic, but on par with her was King Hubert and Queen Gertrude played by Anthony Hoggard and Rebecca Little respectively. These two had me in stitches and both deserve praise and recognition, particularly after their hip-hop rap duet that was the highlight of the evening. It even caused the audience to shout for an encore– yes, this year’s royalty can bust a move.
Special recognition has to go to members of the production team, who didn’t hold back on their use of glitter and sparkle – even the thorns had glitter on!
The only flaw in this production is the length. With Act 1 being an hour and a half long, and the second act being an hour followed by twenty minutes of audience participation and introductions before the final number, it was easy to see why so many youngsters were getting restless after sitting through an almost three hour pantomime.
Special recognition also has to go to members of the production team, specifically Tim Meacock who designed the set and costumes, and Helen Tye for the costume’s creation. Between them, they didn’t hold back on their use of glitter and sparkle – even the thorns had glitter on! Finally, let’s not forget the marvelous uncle Johnny and his orchestra as their music drifted between upbeat chart toppers to ominous classical music, helping to set the mood for the production and the audience.
This being said, this year’s production is quite simply the first choice if you want to see a pantomime in Nottingham. A spectacularly melodramatic performance that deserves every bit of the praise. Full of comedy, spectacle and the occasional innuendo, it is a family event that should not be missed.
Images taken by Robert Day
Sleeping Beauty runs till Saturday 17th January. For more information, see here