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Corn Exchange - Sleeping Beauty

3rd December 2010 to 3rd January 2011.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

It's a right royal panto

Will Newbury's own beauty bag her prince? Find out at the Corn Exchange

Sleeping Beauty, at the Corn Exchange, Newbury, until January 3

The best thing about having nephews are that they provide the perfect partners for those juvenile things you just can't do on your own, like going to see the pantomime at the Corn Exchange in Newbury.

This year's production is once again produced by Hiss and Boo, but the only boos in this gloriously colourful musical interpretation of Sleeping Beauty are for the wicked fairy and sprite, because a triumph it certain is. (OOOoooooh, yes it is!)

Adam Brown, who recently won the part of Ori the dwarf in the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, is on stage again with his comedy partner Clare Plested.

This year he plays a frog prince, who through an unfortunate kissing accident was only partially transformed.

Which suits him, really he does have a distinctly froggish voice.

Plested, in her Essex interpretation of the Queen Chardonnay is marvellous. Which is also true for her rapport with the audience, twisting them around her finger at a whim and coaxing out the big roars of response that make pantomime so much fun.

However, the show certainly is stolen, as it should be, by the villains, the evil sprite (Joseph Wicks), whose over-the-top German accent, and snake-like elegance elicit immediate antagonism and the equally evil Fairy Acid Drop (Katherine Hare).

Spare a thought, though, for Nanny McBubbles (Ian Mowatt). It can't be fun getting dressed up like Lady Gaga, and any man who can do a split while dressed as a cupcake (or was that a tart?) certainly has my respect.

The prince and princess, played by Reeda Harris and Joanna Woodward were rock solid and the lovable fool (Matthew Grace) proved equally entertaining.

Local references abound, with the king having distinctly good taste in newspapers.

I did think the musical description of the Royal Berkshire girls (to the tune of Katy Perry's California Girls), however, was stretching the imagination a bit too far given the current weather.

But at the end of the night, once good has triumphed, the only Sleeping Beautys we were left with were the exhausted little people we took there in the first place.

So if you haven't got your own, do what I did and borrow a nephew, because this is too much fun to miss.


There are reviews in The Stage ("a good, traditional panto, lots of audience participation and the very best costumes and design... the team delivers once again on every front") and The British Theatre Guide ("a cracker of a show... a jaunty, high spirited and fun filled panto with something for everyone from toddler to granny").