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Review: Sleeping Beauty/Everyman

The last ever rock n roll panto in the old theatre is a princely effort

Published on December 2nd 2010.

Review: Sleeping Beauty/Everyman

TAKE a dash of familiar faces, a more than healthy dose of music and dance and a dollop of broad humour and the result is a one of the best nights of the year at Liverpool’s Everyman.

The team behind Sleeping Beauty, this year’s rock 'n' roll panto, have excelled themselves with the last Christmas show in the Everyman auditorium as we know and love it.

It isn’t the set and costumes which steal the show. That plaudit goes to a fantastic cast who break every sinew in making sure the feelgood factor remains high

Sarah Nixon and Mark Chatterton, co-writers, the latter of whom also directs, have written too many of these tales to recall. Alongside musical director Tayo Akinbode, the three take us on yet another fantastic journey with tunes from the likes of Queen, Tina Turner, The Beatles and The Black Eyed Peas.

As colourful as a large pile of Christmas presents, this production is quite simply gorgeous, with a garish but functional set designed by Dinah England, and glorious costumes designed Jacquie Davies.

But it isn’t the set and costumes which steal the show. That plaudit goes to a fantastic cast who break every sinew in making sure the feelgood factor remains high.

Francis Tucker, now in his eighth Everyman panto, plays not one but two dames - Queen Scarlet of Egg Bush and the Brummie monarch of Nutbush, Queen Norma - alongside his partner in crime, fellow Everyman panto veteran, Adam Keast as both King Ashley and King Noddy (hence the Brummie accents) they are the super-glue holding the show together.

The pair bag the biggest laughs and keep both the children and adults smiling, laughing and cheering as the story unfolds with style, poise and grace.

Musically, it is the nifty guitar riffs from Jonny Bower on lead guitar (as well as playing Phileas Frog and Peggy Heggarty) and the dulcet tones of Matthew Wycliffe (Prince Ned) that set the auditorium alight.

The tale is set in the kingdom of Egg Bush, a far away land, where the King and Queen are blessed by Milly Moon Beam (the fantastic Nicky Swift) with a darling daughter (Ruby, played by Sarah Vezmar).

Deciding to celebrate, rock ‘n’ roll style, they invite the world to a right royal party but forget to invite one particular fairy, the dastardly Oderon, played with aplomb by David McGranaghan, who causes more trouble than they ever could have imagined.

The nine immensely talented, multi-skilled musician / dancer / performers are blatant in their enjoyment and actually seem to be having as much fun as the audience. When things go wrong - as they inevitably do and will in panto - plenty of skillful ad-libbing keep things rolling and any rough edges to the show only add to its warmth and charm.

With a production like this, it is hard not to go into superlative overload.

We may have no Everyman for Christmas 2011 but assurances have already been made that the rock ‘n’ roll panto will live on at The Playhouse.

Christmas without the Everyman Panto would be like turkey without the stuffing or festive telly without the Queen’s speech.

Wake up, little snoozies, and book.


*Sleeping Beauty runs until January 22.

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Peter Coyle

i wish i had been there…it sounds like something joyous and anarchic...the way the article is…

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