REVIEW: Sleeping Beauty, Tyne Theatre, Newcastle, until December 30

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WOW! Having seen the last six or so Tyne Theatre pantos and loving them, this just gets better!

The first thing that hits you when entering the packed auditorium is the buzz; the number of excited children is staggering and, from the moment the curtains open to reveal the good fairy Merryweather (Emily Swan) leading the excellent dance troupe, the kids (of all ages) were captivated by this magical adventure

Charlie Richmond, as the dim yet loveable Numpty Norman, has always been a good funnyman, but he’s developed over the years into a charismatic showman and from the second he stands on stage, the crowd are in his gang.

Phillippa Wilson as the wicked Carabosse is outstanding. Glen Joseph (the Prince), who has just finished a UK tour playing the lead in Buddy the Musical, and Sunderland actress Lauren Waine (Sleeping Beauty) share two romantic duets and they are excellent. Despite her young years, Lauren held her own against a great national actor.

Maxie Peters (Dame Nora), comedian and BBC presenter Sue Sweeney (Queenie Sweeney) and Kevin O’Keefe (King Bumble) add constant humour and complete a top-notch cast.

A slick, colourful and engrossing show, it has many highlights, such as Caraboose’s rendition of AC/DC’s Back In Black, a hilarious X Factor sketch and a spider scene that kept the kids on the edge of their seats for a full eight minutes.

Another huge plus was a live band. Not only does this add to the aural spectacle it allows the band to be part of the proceedings.

The story is cracking too. It’s about…actually, it’s well worth taking a trip to Newcastle to find out.

Ed Waugh