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KATS - Sleeping Beauty

14th to 16th February 2002.

This is the Newbury Weekly News review.

KATS' chorus simply gets better

'SLEEPING BEAUTY', performed by Kennet Amateur Theatrical Society, at Kennet School, from Thursday, February 14 to Saturday, February 16

It is good to see newcomers coming into KATS, adding a fresh perspective to their talents and skills. This is very evident in the new version of `Sleeping Beauty' written and produced by newcomer Mike Brook.

The scene was set by the Evil Carabosse, superbly played by Clare Bowden, and Fairy Snowdrop the good fairy - Mandy Cole. The pantomime proper began in the castle with a celebration for the birth of Princess Crystal. As always the tinies in the chorus drew the most ooh and aahs and didn't let us down with their sheet enthusiasm and talent.

I was slightly disappointed by the opening performances of Dave Caufield and Dennis Heath as Queen Nell and King None the wiser. Their opening slapstick routine was a little flat and I felt that Queen Nell could have been a lot more camp. However they did get into the part in the second half and confirmed what a good team they are. It was also gratifying to see audience participation from the beginning thanks to Rip Van Winkle - played by Andy Pocock. It paid dividends.

This was the traditional story with a few twists and the bungling guards Quickmarch and Slowmarch played by Carole Mundell and Pam Delaney were perfect foils for each other. It was they who let the evil Carabosse into the christening party to put the spell on Princess Crystal, which was then tempered by a variety of flower fairies that Alan Titchmarsh would have been proud of, letting her sleep for 100 years.

As usual Pam Knowldens' capacity for comedy was evident as Fairy Nuff - this must he where her grand-daughter Kate Fitzgerald, who played Princess Crystal, gets her talent from. The three Princes, lgor, Manuel and Fritz tried in vain to impress the Princess before her slumbers but were no match for Prince Valiant, played in thigh-slapping tradition by Jemma Evans.

We travelled through time via James Bond (Dave Putton) and Old Father Time (John Hicks) and a variety of nursery characters.

The music chosen by Mike Brooks was excellent and KATS' chorus gets better each time I see them, but I do wish they could have done something about the overall sound - a lot of good lines were lost. However this was not the case for Claire Bowden and Mark Lillycrop (Prince Fritz), whose Gilbert & Sullivan duet was absolutely brilliant.

Well done KATS, your pantomime is a Thatcham tradition well worth preserving.