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Sleeping Beauty pantomime adds a touch of magic to Marina stage

PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 December 2015

Terry Gleed is starring in Sleeping Beauty at the Marina Theatre.

Terry Gleed is starring in Sleeping Beauty at the Marina Theatre.

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As the Marina Theatre's 2015 pantomime continues its successful run, reporter JOE RANDLESOME reviews a performance of the show.

The cast of Sleeping Beauty at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.The cast of Sleeping Beauty at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft.

As soon as the audience focused their eyes on pantomime villain Brigid Lohrey, who played Carabosse, their reception signalled that a truly magical show was in the offing.

The traditional pantomime atmosphere of boos and jeers was soon replaced by cheers and whoops as the Lilac Fairy, played by ex-TV chef Rustie Lee, swooped on to the stage as Sleeping Beauty got under way at the Marina Theatre.

For a sixth year, Paul Holman Associates were behind the production.

A phenomenal cast have been assembled – many of whom have worked together over the past few pantomime seasons.

And the show had everything – we couldn’t stop laughing throughout – particularly at funny-man Terry Gleed, who played Pickles.

Nurse Katy Cough-Drop, played by the injured Steve Shapelle, was the funniest dame I have ever seen in pantomime.

There was the a moment of comedy gold as mayor of Lowestoft Stephen Ardley was asked to stand up in front of the Marina crowd – only for dame Katy to describe him as a “sex bomb” and that he had stolen his chains from a nearby toilet.

The joking was taken in good faith, with Shapelle limping around the stage due to a recent injury he suffered in rehearsals.

The magic sleep, witch’s revenge and breaking of the spell with a kiss are all typically associated with the storyline, and director Richard Cheshire set the fast pace of the show, along with the strong storyline, to include the traditional conventions.

The acting talent displayed by Asa Elliott matched his vocal ability as his chemistry with Emily McAvoy captured the imagination of all along with the expert choreography from Ciaran Connolly.

The high energy performances from the June Glennie School of Dance fitted perfectly with the elaborate costumes and familiar songs including Uptown Funk, Baggy Trousers and I Will Never Let You Down.

John Lyons showed all of his experience to produce a performance of real class as King Crumble and his rendition of Lunch Money Lewis’ track Bills was particularly effective.

The children in the audience also loved meeting Pickles and joining in with a Mexican wave each time he appeared on stage.

The scary ghost scene, was executed to perfection and the crowd could not contain their laughter when Pickles and Rustie Lee took part in a cooking scene, which resulted in flour being poured in the face of Pickles and him also trying to ‘turn on’ an oven, completed with some rather flirtatious moves.

The show is full of silly slapstick gags, but it doesn’t forget about the more mature audience members with jokes and comedy for the adults.

Notably, the reaction of the children as Carabosse sat on her spinning wheel with a sharp needle pointing upwards, was complete pandemonium in an attempt to try and prevent Sleeping Beauty from getting into trouble.

But that summed up the magic of the show, the audience were intrigued, involved and submerged in the fascinating storyline and colourful scenery, costumes and lighting. The timing and skills of musical director Jonathan Eio, who trained at the Royal Academy of Music, and percussionist David Collingsworth, was outstanding and credit should also go to stage manager Karl Barnsley for his work.

Dancer Manolis Georgiou performed in Sleeping Beauty last year but Thomas Mann was making his professional debut. Their energy and enthusiasm added to the performance which left the audience wanting more and ensured the magic and sparkle we have come to associate with Paul Holman Productions was well and truly back with a bang on the east coast.

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