By: Dulcie Harrison, TRP Reviewer
Catch Sleeping Beauty, this year’s pantomime, at our beloved Theatre Royal Plymouth, running until Saturday 14th January 2023.
A traditional pantomime, with a Plymouth twist which will make you feel all Christmassy inside! What a wonderful show it is… oh yes it is! The whole show had everyone beaming and full of laughter as well as dancing along in their seats to popular songs with panto twists of course!
With the familiar fairytale of Sleeping Beauty, the panto plot begins with the evil sorceress Carabosse telling the tale of the day, twisted with envy that her twin brother gets to rule the land, and her own daughter is shunned, she cast a magic curse that on the Princess’s 21st birthday she’s destined to die after pricking her finger (cue evil laugh). So, it is up to the magical Fairy of “Janner land” and the rest of this amazing cast to protect and rescue the princess!
From the very beginning, the theatre is lit up with glorious scenery and light show, Christmas tunes fill the auditorium allowing families and friends alike to soak in a Christmas atmosphere that only panto can bring. The opening burst of magic and song allows the supporting cast a chance to show off their choreography, filling the stage with bursts of colour and smiles.
Plymouth is so lucky with their cast this year as we have X Factor champion Matt Terry playing the best friend of the princess- played by the lovely Stephanie McKenzie- who proves that bravery and telling people how you truly feel can truly be the best thing you can do and true to the fairytale, it pays off when true loves kiss rescues the princess from her slumber.
Throughout the show the cast sing a myriad of different songs which were faultless vocally and was a real joy to watch. Their vocals and the way in which they performed together was pure magic, and the way in which they characterised their parts was pure panto brilliance.
Now, no panto would be the same without a dame- and this amazing dame is brought to life by Ceri Dupree who was simply faaaaaaabulous! With the constant costume change meaning she never wore the same outfit twice! This queen brings laughter and warmth to the panto. Married to the King, hilariously played by Peter Piper, they make an unforgettable duo, haphazardly making their way through the birthday celebrations and, after protecting their daughter from danger all these years, show they will still do all they can to ensure her safety, albeit in a nonconventional way at times!
Pantomime wouldn’t be a pantomime without silly, loveable, cheeky Muddles! And you will not be disappointed when I say that Plymouth struck gold with Shane Richie playing this cheeky Chappy! From the moment he was on stage, he filled the auditorium with applause and from then on with cries of laughter. His portrayal of the role was phenomenal, and his energy bounced off the other characters brilliantly and when paired up with the King- all I can say is be prepared to be indulged into belly aching laughter!
Not afraid to make a fool of himself, Richie showed us how utterly amazing it can be to just enjoy life in the moment and that fun can come in all manner of ways.
The set design was breathtakingly beautiful and sparkled in all the right places, with the use of minimal props and curtains it provided the perfect backdrop for the amazing performances of the cast. There are some surprise props which will truly captivate you in amazement and make you want to hold your breath but I’m not going to spoil it for you, these are best left to have the impact they are designed to have!
The superb timing of magical explosions, lighting, a wonderful live orchestra, together with this outstanding cast brought the show to a level that really makes you feel the true escapism and magic theatre provides us. A packed auditorium, the standing ovation and loud cheers of adoration and especially seeing the joy of live theatre lighting up the faces of young and old alike, brings the warmth of Christmas to you as soon as you’re sat in your seat. There really isn’t anything like seeing a panto at Christmas – and there isn’t anything as wonderful right now than catching this at our wonderful theatre.