Review by NODA of Sleeping Beauty 2017

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Sleeping Beauty The Bacon Theatre, Cheltenham. January 19th 2017

Director & Choreographer: heather Newman MD: Helen Harris
Assistant Choreographer: Kate Williams

This was the first Sleeping Beauty I had in a while and it was a delight.  It was full of well-painted backcloths, colourful costumes, well-loved characters and lots of fun. Fairy Lilac, who was soon interrupted by Bad Fairy Heather, introduced us to the story and so the battle of good versus evil commenced.

This Theatre does not have sufficient height for flying in backcloths, they have to be drawn across the stage and those from Scenery Hire, Newport were excellent, helping to depict each setting well, particularly that of the sumptuous Palace.  They were all well lit, with well-designed and cued lighting and good use of follow spot.  I thought the lighting for the wicked fairy and the forest growing were very evocative.  The scene changes were executed smoothly and efficiently, with everyone working well together.

The choice of music was appropriate for the story, with some good singing.  The duo of Helen Harris and Keith Brain accompanied the cast well, keeping up a good tempo.  The dances had been well choreographed and were not overlong, they either added to the energy of the show, or as with the ballet routines, helped to tell the story.

There were some well-defined characters, Fairy Lilac and Bad Fairy Heather contrasted well.  Fairy Lilac was good-natured, enjoying life and the company of the delightful little Rainbow Fairies; whereas Bad Fairy Heather exuded malice with every syllable she uttered.  King Cactus and Queen Marigold were an amusing pair of kindly but clueless parents and made you think it was a good job they had Nurse Dottie Dettol to look after their baby.  Although you did wonder if the Princess would survive long enough to reach her 16th birthday in the hands of Nurse Dottie, who truly lived up to her name. Dottie was a lovely, outrageously dressed Dame, who engaged well with the audience, particularly with one young gentleman, who she repeatedly returned to and whose name she kept getting wrong.  Princess Rose was a lovely young lady well suited to the role giving a confident performance, both with singing and acting.  Palace Servant Muddles certainly worked hard to encourage the audience to participate.  This character was full of fun and energy, portraying a ‘muddled’ character well, and keeping the show moving at a good pace, the audience loved him/her, especially when sweets were being distributed.  The comic duo of Palace Messengers Fetch and Carrie, showed their incompetence well, but once or twice I felt they needed to pick up their cues a little quicker.   Our Hero Prince Alexis, who saved the day, played the role with confidence and worked well with Princess Rose.

The Chorus of Villagers and Courtiers worked well supporting the action throughout, they sang and moved confidently, reacting appropriately in each situation.  The young people in the chorus were self-assured and well disciplined.  The dancers were well rehearsed with poise and elegance in their movements in the ballet.  I especially liked the growing of the Forest of Thorns.

Director and choreographer, Heather Newman, had worked well with her cast encouraging them to confidently bring this well-loved story to the stage.  The script had been adapted to include many local references and the scene place names, was well timed and very funny.  Musicians, backstage crew and wardrobe, had admirably supported the enthusiastic cast to give audiences a colourful, well-coordinated evenings entertainment, which lifted everyone’s spirits. Congratulations to you all.

Frankie Telford.
Regional Representative.  District 15.