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Sleeping Beauty, Norwich Theatre Royal review: ‘A spellbinding show packed with magic, mayhem, music’

PUBLISHED: 10:12 16 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:12 16 December 2017

Theatre Royal panto, Sleeping Beauty.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Theatre Royal panto, Sleeping Beauty. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

It’s a spellbinding show packed with magic, mayhem, music and dance – this year’s Sleeping Beauty is a dream of a pantomime.

The classic fairytale, set in Norbridge on the Verge in a Downton Abbey-style house, tells the age-old story of the baby cursed by a vengeful witch – played with cackling delight by Gillian Wright (who I have always loved in EastEnders) and later enchanted into a sleep that lasts 100 years.

Performances are notably strong this year from everyone concerned: lead vocals from Glenn Adamson as Timothy Norbridge and Elizabeth Carter as the titular Sleeping Beauty Patience Midges were wonderful and Stephen Godward as Sleepwalking Beauty Lord Teddy had a voice as rich as clotted cream.

Derek Griffiths – the soundtrack to my childhood – is a delight as Chortwood the Butler: I never thought the nice man who took us through the windows would dance like THAT!

The spectacularly cute Panto Babes from the Central School of Dancing and Performance Arts aside (and they are lovely), the real stars of the show are, of course, that force of nature in ridiculous frocks (my favourite was the fried breakfast apron with judiciously-placed eggs) Richard Gauntlett as Mrs Midges the Housekeeper and the brilliant Ben Langley as Muddles Midges.

Together, Gauntlett and Langley are the gold at the end of the pantomime rainbow.

There are some truly superb stand-out moments: the Dowager singing about wanting to be rich, powerful and famous, the Tardis spinning through time and space to rescue a princess, the bell-ringing monks, Mrs Midges and Muddles in the water gardens, the stunning dancing skeletons, Greta (Greta, Greta, Greta) the lawnmower.

Add in a sprinkling of sing-along songs, the gorgeous sets, the Ipswich and A11 jibes, the wonderful effects, the orchestra and the costumes and you’ve got a spectacular show. I loved it. Oh yes I did.

* Sleeping Beauty is at Norwich Theatre Royal until January 14, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk, 01603 630000.

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