Top 5 Pantomimes – 2017/2018

It’s been a busy festive and indeed Pantomime season and there are a few amazing shows enjoying their final audience this weekend. Choosing my favourites from amongst the eight Pantomimes I’ve had the great pleasure and privilege of watching has been really easy! Here they are…. of yes they are…. (I need to stop that, until the end of this year at the very least!!):

Sleeping Beauty – Rhyl Pavilion Theatre: The only show I have ever bitten the bullet with and cheekily given six stars to! I LOVED Sleeping Beauty at Rhyl Pavilion Theatre, it had everything you could wish for from a pantomime and worked on every audience level. Sean Jones (who I’ve always rated in Blood Brothers) was outstanding in the comedy lead, Amy Thompson was her usual fantastic self in the title role (one of the best female leads I’ve seen – I saw her last year at Malvern Theatres). Vicky Entwistle impressed me as Carabosse, I didn’t realise how superb her vocal ability is and Sarah-Jane Buckley makes the role of the Fairy her own – she’s incredible, I can’t fault her at all. Add the glorious set, excellent mixture of songs and plentiful opportunities for audience participation to the mix and you have one of the best pantomimes of the season for Break A Leg.

Cinderella – Liverpool Empire Theatre: I loved everything about our unexpected trip to see Cinderella at Liverpool Empire Theatre. A beautiful setting with one of QDOS’s best pantomimes ably filling the auditorium with pantomime magic and a stellar cast. Jodie Prenger as Fairy Godmother is a moment that will last until the next pantomime season. Daniel Taylor, knocked his performance out of the park as one of the truly awful (in the best possible way) Ugly Sisters. He was assisted by James Templeton who is a performer I’ve not seen before, another exceptional Dame! The set was stunning and I couldn’t stop admiring it, it was akin to a wonderland. One of the best!

 

Sleeping Beauty – Worcester Repertory Theatre: One of the most exceptional efforts this season and from one of Break A Leg’s local theatres. It was my debut at Worcester Rep and a splendid show to make my debut with. This pantomime is one of the best family pantomimes I’ve seen this season, a warm, friendly feel and a cast de force. Liz Grand as Carabosse as Ben Humphrey as Dame Ginny were both exceptional. A massive high five to all involved, can’t wait for your next show.

Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood – Stafford Gatehouse Theatre: The Rock ‘N’ Roll pantomime which really changed my perspective of pantomime with a fresh new take. What a talented group of performers who sing, dance, characterise and play instruments! This is one I’d have happily paid a return visit to see. Guaranteed to have you dancing in the aisles.

Cinderella – Malvern Theatres: Malvern always have a superb pantomime and this season’s show has been no different. This version of Cinderella was packed with a variety of musical numbers, excellent up to date banter and audience interaction was at its best. Alison Hammond was a Fairy Godmother to be reckoned with and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance from the Ugly Sisters too. There aren’t many pantomimes I would recommend fellow theatre-goers to travel for, but this one would certainly have been worth making an effort to get to.

Sleeping Beauty ~ Rhyl Pavilion Theatre

Sleeping Beauty stays at Rhyl Pavilion Theatre until 6 January 2018 – BOOK NOW! www.rhylpavilion.co.uk/sleeping-beauty/

Star rating: ******

I’ve seen more than my fair share of Pantomimes this season – oh yes I have! I’m having a ball and I’ve liberally dished out the stars which have been richly deserved. However, I have found one which deserves more than five stars, and that’s Sleeping Beauty which is gracing the stage of Rhyl Pavilion Theatre.

I couldn’t find fault with this stunning spectacle if I tried and there’s not one weak link amongst an exceptional cast who each play a full role in the show. Unlike many shows I’ve seen before where a Fairy might only be seen for a few key scenes and a King would appear a handful of times – every character is at the hub of the perfectly paced production.

There’s a fantastic mixture of musical numbers and with Sarah Jane Buckley as Fairy Snowflake, Vicky Entwistle as Carabosse and Amy Thompson as Sleeping Beauty herself, at the helm, musically the show is already in superb hands. All three female leads have stunning vocal capability which they demonstrate to the maximum. Add Sean Jones to the mix as the hilarious Silly Billy and Chris Warner Drake as the Prince and the performance level is taken to another dimension. With Charles Burden as Nanny Glucose bringing a wealth of experience to the show and Sam Patrick making an excellent Pantomime debut.

The combination of modern material blended with traditional madcap pantomime high-jinx delighted the packed house and truly makes this a pantomime with something for everyone. Family orientated with jokes for adults and the smaller members of the audience.

The scenery is quite something, providing an elaborate backdrop fitting for the fairy tale. There are a few special effects which I won’t spoil, however the quality of the content means that effects are merely a bonus feature. Magic is created by every actor on stage who are each giving 110% to make this a pantomime de force.

The opportunities for audience participation are plentiful, the fourth wall is smashed, just as it should be. Sean Jones is nothing short of a comedy genius and his natural talent is reminiscent of the comedy heroes I grew up watching. Charles Burden’s Nanny Glucose is an able sidekick for Billy, a traditional Dame indeed with many quick changes and a superb range of costumes. Chris Warner Drake played the Prince as a solid, dependable hero and he was a perfect match for Amy Thompson as the gentile and beautiful Princess. I’ve seen Thompson as Sleeping Beauty previously and she never fails to impress me, she is one of the finest Pantomime Princesses I’ve seen. Vicky Entwistle as Carabosse was a revelation to me, such a seething, feisty and fiery baddie – Entwistle embraces the role and gave an outstanding performance. As for Sarah-Jane Buckley, she’s the epitome of magic, sparkle and silliness. She’s glitzy, glittery and also offers precise comic timing and a West Country accent! The best Fairy in Panto-land, in my humble opinion.

If you’re in need of a post-Christmas pick-me-up then this seaside extravaganza is just the ticket and you’ve got just over a week to see it.

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