REVIEW – Sleeping Beauty, Royalty Theatre, until December 16

Royalty Theatre Pantomime Sleeping Beauty.'Left to right; Princess Aurora played by Jenny Wemyss, Tickles played by Andrew Barella, Dame Goodbody played by Lee Stewart, and Lord Chamberlain Fusspot played by Robert Cockburn.
Royalty Theatre Pantomime Sleeping Beauty.'Left to right; Princess Aurora played by Jenny Wemyss, Tickles played by Andrew Barella, Dame Goodbody played by Lee Stewart, and Lord Chamberlain Fusspot played by Robert Cockburn.
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WHAT a beauty – panto has proved to be the jewel in the crown of this year’s productions at Sunderland’s oldest community theatre.

With bags of energy and passion, a sprightly cast brought to life the classic tale of the pretty princess who’s plagued by a soporific spell.

For a show based upon sleeping, it’s a lively affair, full of twists and turns and topped off with some chuckle-inducing one-liners.

At the helm is Andy Barella as the show’s chief rib-tickler, Tickles, and Lee Stewart as the court jester’s sidekick and love interest Amonia Goodbody.

The pair were lovably crackers and were a highlight of the show for me, especially in scenes with the hapless heralds, Shout and Bawl, played perfectly by Dan Page and Mik Richardson.

The four were excellent in the frog song scene in which eager members of St Andrew’s Church Beavers, who were in the audience for opening night, joined them on stage.

Jenny Wemyss imbued the eponymous heroine of the piece with innocence and came across as a sweet and likeable leading lady. The children we had taken to the show, my niece Amy and Cara’s son Tate, were particularly impressed with the token ‘baddie’, Carabosse, played with aplomb by Lorna Breeze, who elicited some bellowing boos from the crowd.

Special mention must also go to the dancing garden bugs from Susan Ridley School of Dance who were utterly adorable.

The Royalty’s offering may not be the most lavish of the region’s pantos, but it’s certainly got one of the biggest, brightest hearts.

Catch it while you can.

•Tickets are £8. Visit www.royaltytheatre.co.uk for more information or Tel. 561 8434.