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REVIEW: Sleeping Beauty at Newcastle Northern Stage

It’s Panto Time At Northern Stage
…Oh, Yes It Is!

Sleeping Beauty
Newcastle Northern Stage
Tuesday 27th – Saturday 31st August 2019

Newcastle’s Northern Stage is hosting a family pantomime this week with a cast full of local experienced panto talent. Written, and co-directed, by local lad Tom Whalley, the classic story of Sleeping Beauty is located in Geordie land.

Now the only panto that usually happens at Northern Stage is the adults only improvised Pantso which take place on the set of the delightful family Christmas Show. The other unusual aspect of this show is that not many people do Sleeping Beauty – we think our last SB panto was at the Tyne Theatre and that’s a few years back.

This is a traditional panto so it opens with Hazel Pude as Fairy Canny setting out the tale before, with a blast of white smoke, Miss Rory sets out the plans of the evil Carabosse and her sidekick Radgie Gadgie (James Mitchinson).

Sleeping Beauty (Robyn McEnaney) is under a curse from Carabosse, and as her 21st birthday approaches the evil one is keen to wreak revenge. Watching over her is panto dame Daniel Mawston as Queen Patsy and the panto’s comic Muddles, played by Craig Richardson. Of course there is a Prince in this story and Wayne Smith’s Prince Philip of Fenham arrives in the nick of time as the chaos begins.

Whilst Miss Rory has appeared in a number of adult pantos at the Boulevard, this is one of Dan Cunningham’s first family pantos before taking his Miss Rory character to Cinderella at the Sunderland Empire. The portrayal of a cynical sarcastic wrong doer was well in keeping with the family panto format.

We have enjoyed watching Daniel Mawston grow as a panto dame over the recent years and this is another fine performance, reminiscent of the laugh-a-minute Jack In The Beanstalk, which was another Tom Whalley penned panto. Some of Daniel’s lines are near the knuckle but the parents will laugh whilst those jokes fly over the heads of the young kids.

It’s nice to see both Craig Richardson once again as he is funny and engaging with the little members of the audience, and the return of Robyn McEnaney who showed in Snow White that she is a capable singer and actor. Hazel Pude is another member of the cast who has a clear understanding of how to reach out to the audience.

We enjoyed opening night, which featured a number of our panto heroes, as it had plenty of laughs plus a number of the format’s staples. There is the take off scene, the chase, the local jokes and chances for the kids to yell out the classic phrases.

This was opening night and there were hiccups along the way, but it is your ability to recover that marks the quality of the cast. The compensation for these moments was the wonderfully worked scenes involving board games and the watch that played well picked tunes – a moment that reminds you that a crew and technical team are working hard behind the scenes.

This panto keeps reasonably close to the fairy tale, without unnecessary deviations, helping it to run at 2 hours including interval. You don’t want shows running longer than this if you want to attract younger families. The only padding were the songs which, whilst not advancing the story, were all well sung and gave each member of the principal cast their moment in the spotlight. There is also a small dancing ensemble that managed to fill the stage – a real achievement given the width of this particular stage – which included some really young kids who enjoyed their moment in the spotlight.

Sleeping Beauty is a funny panto that is a good night out for the family before the kids return to school. The beauty of using Northern Stage is there is a good view from each seat. Remember panto isn’t just for Christmas! It will be interesting to see what comes next from producer and co-director Liam Glendining’s ‘Glendo Entertainment’.

Review by Stephen Oliver

Performance times:
3pm & 7pm

Sat 31 August, 11am & 3pm

Relaxed performance: Wed 28 August, 3pm

Running time – Approx. 2 hrs (including interval)

Age recommendation - Suitable for all ages

You can buy tickets for the show from just £10 online from the Northern Stage box office, by calling 0191 230 5151, or online:

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