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Sleeping Beauty (Susan Elkin reviews)

Sleeping Beauty – ★★★★★
Presented by The Capitol Horsham. Directed by Nick Mowat.
society/company: Capitol Horsham, The
performance date: 15 Dec 2018
venue: Capital Horsham 410-seat main auditorium, Studio Theatre, 2 Cinema Screens


This engaging and entertaining show manages to be both traditional and fresh so that you never know quite what will happen next. Musically it includes Jailhouse RockCarmina BuranaThe Entrance of the Queen of Sheba, the compulsory-for-2018 Baby Shark and lots more. It’s faultlessly eclectic as well as making Aurora (Natasha Hoeberigs) feisty, creating a compelling character in Herman the Henchman (Ben Ofoedu) and having a cracking live band (led by Alex Williams) under the stage. Moreover, I’ve seenThe Twelve Days of Christmas, pantomime style, many times but rarely one as funny as this. I agonised all the way back to south London about the star rating and finally decided that the dragon (no spoilers but he’s terrific) gets it the fifth one.

Everyone in the cast shines, including the team of very-well-trained children in the ensemble. James Fletcher, diminutively boyish as Lester the Jester has a very appealing way of catching the audience’s eye when he makes a joke or remark. He knows exactly how to exploit a part like this. It’s a fine performance – his LAMDA training really shows.

Nicola Hume is attractively unassuming but assertive as Fairy Good Heart and Nicole Faraday cackles and sneers – great lip-lifting technique – as Carabosse in black fishnets, masses of eye-darkening makeup and a great deal of pewter clothing. Ofedu plays her halfwitted hechman shuffling about and speaking exaggerated cockney. What a stroke of genius also to give him a very lively (everyone on the audience on their feet and dancing) DJ spot too. As someone in the script comments: “You could make a living at this.”

James Dinsmore makes King Joseph, Aurora’s father, seem more fatherly and reasonable and a lot less wet than such a character usually is. And the spot in which he morphs into another take on The King and does a medley of Elvis Presley songs is lovely theatre. As Nurse Nora, Hywel Dowsell is less camp than some panto dames but he’s very watchable and I liked the way his (presumably) natural Welsh accent comes through.

Hoeberigs looks very pretty and sings beautifully. Her full belt is quite something. Sean Smith is a strong Prince Rupert with a fine voice and the sort of manner – dishy but decent – which enables us to see why she might fall for him so readily. Their duet singing is splendid.

Unusually – it’s another way in which this panto is original – the four person professional dance ensemble is all male and they are very good indeed. They’re dazzlingly fast and extraordinarily lithe in the dance numbers as well as singing in chorus sections and taking minor speaking roles.

Yes, this really is a top-notch pantomime – and certainly the best I’ve seen so far this year. Well done director Nick Mowat and everyone he is working with at Horsham.

 First published by Sardines:,%20The%20(professional)-Sleeping%20Beauty%20-%20%E2%98%85%E2%98%85%E2%98%85%E2%98%85%E2%98%85&reviewsID=3432
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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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