ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

SLEEPING BEAUTY Written by Barry Crossley Directed by Daniel Oliver-Grant Hyde Little Theatre (Amateur) December 1st arrives, and the first Christmas song gets played on the radio, but it isn’t until I see my first pantomime that I really start feeling festive. This pantomime, written by Barry Crossley, really had everything you would want from a pantomime, the gags, humour for old and young alike, and audience participation by the bucket load. The stage was elegantly and opulently presented and various cloths were used to mark the change of scenes. Under the watchful eye of Steve Rothwell, stage manager, a posse of stage crew worked hard behind the scenes to keep this production flowing. Not only was the stage well-dressed but so were the cast, from tiny tots to the Dame. All the costumes added glamour to the scenes. Those in the wardrobe department, take a bow. The whole production shone brightly (pun intended) and Steven Oliver-Grant deserves praise for his lighting plot. The whole production was seamless, bright light for the goodies and dim greens for the baddies. What was impressive was the lighting during the musical number, everything seemed to blend well and flow. The members of the audience were entranced, as if they were at a STEPS concert. The musical choices were excellent, as was the movement and choreography by Clare Pascoe and Sue Bradbury. Every pantomime needs a Dame and in this one we got two, the glamorous Nurse Nelly, and her evil twin, Nurse Smelly. Both were played well, and dialogue delivered confidently by Simon Sullivan. There has to be a twinkle and a naughtiness in an effective Dame: after all he has to appeal to children and adults alike. Simon showed he knows his stage craft here, and really enjoyed himself without taking it all a bit too far. To add to the bundle of fun was a new addition to this pantomime, Stephen Hague, he really did play the bumbling silly character of Muddles well. He was confident, daft, and engaging all at the same time and really had the audience with him when shouting out his greeting. Pantomimes rely on the good versus evil roles, that true love and goodness will triumph over all. Kathryn Shenton looked every bit a Fairy Stardust, complete with tiara, gown, and glitter. She was well supported by two sets of fairies, who were all confident delivering their dialogue. The opposite to this is the menace of a baddie and Gavin Chadwick as the evil Carabosse was outstanding in this production. He championed and totally owned the evilness of the character. He played the audience well, inviting them to boo and hiss. Pantomime can become very raucous and loud, and it is a evident that, to command a character, the performer has to channel and control this engagement. Gavin did this well. He knew when to stop his dialogue,