Grove Theatre, Dunstable
7.00pm, 9 December 2017
With a very funny script that had me actually LOLing, some very cleverly directed scenes and a top notch cast, Evolution Pantomimes’ Sleeping Beauty at the Grove provided a great start to the panto season.
Opening the show was CBeebies Rebecca Wheatley, who, as a sweet and lovely Fairy Moonbeam, provided the force of good. Opposite her as the evil Carabosse was the wonderful Sally Lindsay whose skill as an actor really showed as she eeked out every ounce of evil and humour from the role with perfectly timed asides and drawing laughter from a single look.
The role of Prince Charming in any panto is often a bit of a nothing/stand there looking handsome role. Not for John Partridge it isn’t! He certainly doesn’t just stand there – with a huge singing voice and some enviable moves he fills the stage with personality whenever he appears. Jemma Carlise as always made a lovely princess but you got the feeling that in that relationship she would never get a word in! Mind you, she was the one who eventually slayed the dragon though so maybe she will give as good as she gets?! Nice 21st century touch there.
Sleeping Beauty has not always been a favourite panto because there’s never an obvious place for a dame and funny man but Evolution Pantomimes version perfectly slots in Nurse Nellie and jester Jangles. Will Kenning and Ian Jones respectively gave fantastic comic relief, particularly in the stand out classic scenes. One in which they needed perfect timing and skill to deliver a story using used magazine titles and another where in true slapstick fashion, a faulty bathroom led to the pair of them – and much of the stage – were soaked.
And even the much-used dame, bench, Ghostbusters scene wasn’t too laborious – and after all, a panto isn’t a panto without it these days.
This panto has all the elements you need for a top festive night out, non-stop fun, popular music, local references where Watford was the butt of many a joke (when isn’t it?!) a fantastic team of dancers, lots of colour and sparkle and even a fire breathing dragon. What’s not to like?