Spring Pantomime - 'Sleeping Beauty'
N.O.D.A. (East) Review
by Stephen Hayter - Region 4 Representative
LAVENDER HILL MOB THEATRE COMPANY
Script and Lyric by Les Miles and Music and Orchestration by Tim Rock
There is always something peculiar about sitting down for a Panto in Spring. At this year’s Lavender Hill Mob presentation of Sleeping Beauty things were made even more disorientating by my attending a matinee! I was, quite frankly, still reeling from the extraordinary quality of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and was well aware coming close to that standard again was going to be a challenge. Having said that, it is always a pleasure to be at the Corn Exchange, a rare treat for me these days, with most of the local societies opting for The Guildhall of St George and a better bottom line. So I settled into my seat and began to think, bring on the boo-and-hiss.
I have no doubt that the music was original as Tim Rock seems to be able to pen great tune after great tune, but the script didn’t seem to be credited to anyone so I can only guess that it was a Les Miles … but I might be wrong. The set was stunning as always with great swathes of backcloths making every scene colourful and exciting. Lighting (Andy Nicholson) was exactly what the Doctor ordered and costumes, hair and make-up causing no offence. The simple choreography (Laura Farr) helped things along nicely and it practically goes without saying that everyone seemed to having a great time!
Another fact that generally goes without saying is … the cast was enormous! It always is! I don’t know how they manage to get everyone in the right place and at anywhere approaching the right time. The army of Chaperones (too many to credit) might well have something to do with it. Bear in mind also, that everyone is a volunteer. Amazing!
Of the supporting cast I was disappointed … very disappointed that Shakespeare the Bear was credited in the cast list as being “Himself”. I thought whoever it was did a nice job and can only assume that there was more than one person forced inside that costume. In addition I enjoyed all three Princess Rose’s Ellie-Mae Smith (Child), Erin Russell (Teenager) and especially Kerry Bensley (Adult) and a wonderful blink and you miss it cameo from Gabrielle Short as a Frog. Proving once again there are no small parts, only small performances and this was certainly not one of those. The three fairies (Chantelle Booth, Kacey Dent and Kaitlin Dent) all worked hard and Sarah Hawkins and David Howard both turned in some of their best work as the Queen and King.
In the more prominent roles, Lee Ann Dean made a nice job of evil queen Belladonna, ably (if not a little disturbingly) assisted by Tom Bains. Ford Bailey and Matthew Smedmor as evil drag Queens Hortense, Hyacinth and Harriet. Mr Smedmor particularly stealing every scene
he was in. I still have no idea how he stayed on those shoes! The good team was well represented by Jasmine Dent as magical Ensodora and the story was driven along by Megan Matthews and Alana Gemmell and Alex Page as storytellers Felicity,Faye, and Faith. Supremely talented James Hohol was all about as comedy side kick S.O.D.O.F.F but had way too little to do with the bulk of the humour going to comedy lead, Carl Smith as Bob. Mr Smith did a fine job but looked like he may have been a little short of experience. I wondered during the performance why Mr Hohol had so little of the script, but an after-show investigation discovered that commitments elsewhere meant his availability was limited. As a team, they did OK.
Penultimate paragraph honours go to Emily Key as Prince Philip. A relaxed delivery with a beautiful singing voice and she also got to do the Fox Hat gag - which is one of my favourites!
Congratulations to Les Miles and Tim Rock for another incredible achievement. It
may not have managed the dizzy heights of ‘A Christmas Carol’ but I had a great
Stephen P. E. Hayter