It’s that time of year again (oh no it’s not, oh yes it is). Pantomime is popping up left, right and centre and this year Wolverhampton Grand have delivered an absolute spectacle. From dragons and fairies, to magic before your eyes, this is the sort of theatre that makes children want to come back again and again. Serving up more double entendres than you could shake a stick at, Sleeping Beauty had all the ingredients to make this a pantomime to remember.
From the outset the children were enchanted as Fairy Crystal (Debbie McGee) was suspended above the audiences heads. Acting as protagonist, McGee soon locks horns with the evil Carabosse, played with flair by Julie Paton.
The much-loved story unfolds before our eyes, packed with humour, magic and music for good measure. McGee makes for an endearing fairy (even when she did forget her lines) - but that made it all the more funnier. She was supported well by an array of characters, including Bethan-Wyn Davies as Princess Beauty and Oliver Ormson as Prince Harry, who sang a lovely duet of Rewrite the Stars from the iconic Greatest Showman soundtrack. They also managed to weave in A Million Dreams and you could here echoes of little voices singing along in the audience.
There were of course some particular stand out performances, namely Ian Adams as Queen Wilhelmina and Doreen Tipton as Nurse Doreen. They were hilariously brilliant in their respective roles, with a great nod to Baby Shark squeezed in for good measure. However, the stars of this pantomime were Richard Cadell (Muddles), Sooty and the delightful, unexpected appearance from Sweep. Cadell’s warmth on stage was palpable and he really got the audience going. And with Sooty and Sweep, it felt as if the adults in the audience regressed back to their childhood as they excitedly called out “Izzy wizzy let’s get busy”. Meanwhile, Sweep’s Luciano Pavarotti performance is perhaps one of the greatest things I’ve seen in Panto. Laugh out loud funny.
However, it was the spectacular magic and illusions in this particular pantomime that took my breath away. Audiences were left in awe as magic happened before our eyes and to hear the audible gasps from children goes to prove why pantomime is such a brilliant way of introducing youngsters to theatre.
Sleeping Beauty is packed full of sparkle and wonder. What better way to show children the magic of theatre? And what a Christmas treat for Wolverhampton!
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