Review: Sleeping Beauty at The Castle Theatre, Wellingborough
A TikTok dance off, a wall of fire, a time-travelling tardis, a super-chic baddie and a lot of belly laughs - panto has arrived in Wellingborough and it's utterly fabulous. Oh yes it is!
I’d had a busy week, I was shattered and glad for the comfy seat to sink into at Wellingborough’s Castle Theatre (seriously the comfiest theatre seats ever with actual leg room). Maybe I could channel Sleeping Beauty to sneak in forty winks and just let my daughter enjoy the panto, I thought to myself. Ha! As if. No sooner had Nurse Nelly (played by Music Hall stalwart Adam Borzone, rocks an epic line in gingham bonnets and pinafores) and his colourful compatriot Jingles (singles and looking to mingles, played by William Frazer) arrived on stage than we were belting out Let It Snow at and I was immersed for the next two hours of wicked hilarity, cheesy nostalgia and witty nods to contemporary culture that delighted the whole audience. Yes, even the teenagers.
There are no d-list celebs or reality stars here to drain the budget and fudge their lines, just great actors doing great work. Of course, we all know the story of Sleeping Beauty and love the characters (well, most of them) already but, as is the pantomime tradition, it’s all about spinning it and making it as slapstick, joyful, dramatic and ultimately heartwarming as you can and true to the fairy’s names (Fairy Flora, Fairy Marge and Fairy I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter), the brilliant cast spread it so thick you might need to check your cholesterol levels afterwards.
Of course, Aurora, Fairy Marge, Prince Charming and the King are eternally loveable and charmingly played by Alice Ellen Wright and Sarah Hooper, Mark Lamb and James Dinsmore, but for me there were two standout stars of the show, the delectably glamorous and chillingly wicked Carabosse (played by Ria Turner, styled à la Angelina in Maleficent and happily redeemed by the time the curtain falls) and her hapless and lonely sidekick Herman (played by Stuart Ash and a seriously impressive dancer).
Musical numbers and TikTok dance-offs abound, there’s even a real fire-breathing dragon to be slayed (well, the fire is real, I can’t vouch for the dragon) and as our heroes travel through time to wake Princess Aurora from her 100 year snooze – she was double-jabbed – we’re treated to some magnificent fashions, a singalong playlist of retro pop hits and some rather epic dance routines that wouldn’t look out of place on Strictly. My expectations were massively surpassed thanks to an incredible cast and gorgeously creative set-design.
As we left the theatre to head back home at the end of an uplifting evening, my own very happy little 8 year old sleeping beauty had nodded off before we got out of the car park (free parking btw), and this 42 year old was streaming all the hits from the show to keep the magic alive for just a bit longer.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Families, of course, and kids of all ages, but there were adults without kids enjoying themselves too (including poor Graham, husband of Wellingborough’s Mayor, who was sitting front and centre and took all the jokes from Nurse Nelly with the best of humours).
Not for: Only the tiniest tots who won’t last the duration. Who doesn’t love a panto?! Leave your inhibitions behind and enjoy.
Sleeping Beauty runs until 2 Jan 2022 at The Castle Theatre, Castle Way, Wellingborough, NN8 1XA
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