The Wolverhampton Grand Theatre has another hit on its hands with this years pantomime, for in my humble opinion, Sleeping Beauty is their best ever Christmas show. It is, quite simply perfect. It is sparkling in both its exterior gloss and its wonderfully witty script, and has a cast to die for, with the beauty and elegance of Debbie McGee contrasting wonderfully with the hilarious Black County humour of Doreen Tipton, with the whole thing being held together by the sheer brilliance of Richard Cadell and Sooty. Add in a surprise appearance by the naughtiest dog in the puppet world and you have Panto Perfection.
What makes Sleeping Beauty so wonderful is that it is always fun, and the cast are having so much fun performing it. The story is the familiar one, although we skip forward to Princess Beauty;s 21st birthday. This is the wicked Carabosse’s last chance for her curse to work (Julie Paton vamps it up just beautifully in the traditional baddie role.) But everyone in the palace is keeping a special eye on the princess (Bethan-Wyn Davis, a lovely fairy princess portrayal), including her mother Queen Wilhelmina (the sublime Ian Adams, in my view the Queen of all panto dames), Muddles the Court Jester and Nurse Doreen. Princess Beauty has met a handsome Prince, the familiarly named Prince Harry (Oliver Ormson – very funny in his tongue in cheek performance), but it may be that Harry, unaware of the Carobosse’s curse, and may gift the princess the means of her destruction. Luckily, the Lovely Fairy Crystal (Debbie McGee) is on hand to save the day and change the curse.
This is a highly polished show, with a cast that play it to perfection. Richard Cadell is not only brilliant as a comic performer, but shows his magician skills to perfection, especially in a truly impressive stunt involving chains and chainsaws. Debbie McGee forgets some of the lines and makes it all part of her charm, she is, pardon the pun, just lovely, and a total dream when she is dancing. But it is Doreen Tipton who once again steals the show with a string of one liners delivered in that deadpan Black Country accent with a face that could curdle milk. She is so good, at times your face hurts due to laughing so much.
With impressive staging, particularly during the scene with the dragon, great musical moments and a cast that very often laugh with you, Sleeping Beauty is a dream of a panto.
And as for Sooty, he is as wonderful and ageless as ever!
Until 13th January 2019
Click here for ticket information