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The Sleeping Beauty - NODA Review 2015

Bath Unity Players, Kingswood School, Dec 2015

 

 

 
Reviewed by Dee Way, District 14 Representative, South West Region
 
Thank you for inviting me to comment on your recent production of the pantomime ‘The Sleeping Beauty’.  I came looking forward to a light-hearted show with a strong storyline and good audience involvement.  This production included everything I could have wished for.  The show was well written and thought through, with new jokes, slap stick and songs, and good organisation of scene changes, mood changes and fun.
 

 

The Direction (by the author) introduced several very good touches, such as the costumes showing the fashion change over 100 years, from 1820s to 1920s.  The princes coming from various parts of the world was innovative, while the mature fairies were lovely!  I liked the idea of putting bowls of cake mix into the oven and getting out a decorated three-layered cake.  I also liked the realism of children growing up as shown in the film on the backcloth.   Altogether it was a well-integrated show that worked really well.

 

The opening era and atmosphere were well set by the spinning wheel depicted on the curtain, and the incidental music.  The lighting was excellent – supporting but not dictating – and the sound was very good overall. I liked the drum and keyboard effects, from fairy flight to Carabosse (thunder) warning - with lightning.  The scene changes were covered by events front of stage effectively on the whole, so audience interest was maintained at all times. 

 

Set: The set comprised mostly two-sided flats for wings and projected scenes on a back screen.  This was very effective in creating the castle, the forest and the turret with the spinning wheel.  The use of the front gauze enhanced the production by creating some very good effects, such as the growing of the forest and the reappearance of the castle.  The projection of the image of castle walls onto the back screen was particularly well done. The moving of flats was well done on the whole, although moving them across the stage once seemed a little odd.  Are the crew aware that they could be seen?  Perhaps using thicker gauze would have prevented this, and the projection of the film higher on the screen – or on the gauze - to hide the crew moving the props.

 

Lighting and Special effects:  Lighting was exceptionally good, with lighting cues well met and effects used to good effect.  The Sound was also very good, and the effect of thunder and lightning was very realistic.   Only occasionally did the mix of mics and lack of mics make an impression on the audience. 

 

Dance: the dancing was excellent and fitted into the production seamlessly. The choreography was unusual and worked very well.  The cobweb dance I felt was particularly good. The dancers added greatly to the dramatic effect of the show, with all the different styles of dance used.

 

Costumes: The costumes were stunning, with the Dame’s clothes being bright and gaudy and with several changes for everyone. The fairies were colour-co-ordinated, while the progression from Georgian to Flapper was lovely!  

 

 

Performances:

The casting was good, with nice contrasts in characters. Only the king needed a little more strength.

 

The Dame Norah Numpty (Tom Jenkins) was given the believable role of nurse to Princess Rosamond.  This was a good loud character who delivered his jokes and moved well and commanded the stage.  I liked his first harlequin costume in particular.

 

Fairies: Sunburst (Trish Hill) was very well played as calm, and projected both character and voice really well. Amethyst (Cress Bullock) was well played as more lively and unpredictable.  Blossom (Kim Cardoza) was well played as a dreamer, while Melody (Hayley White) was well played as a scatterbrain who was always late.

 

Carabosse (Lynda Tucker) was totally believable as a wicked fairy!  Her solo ‘I Hate People’ was very good!   Her movements and voice were excellent, as was her redemption at the end – a very different ending for the character!

 

Chamberlain Charles (Ian Cowie) was good and believable as the flunky. 

 

King Hubert (Steve Barratt) played the king to good effect, although portraying more natural power could have helped his performance. He needed to develop a little more stage presence and march around the stage imperiously.

 

Queen Sophia (Jenny John) was well played and looked the part, with good presence.

 

Princess Rosamond (Olivia Cowie) was well cast and played her part very effectively.  To lie still on the couch while the princes tried to wake her must have been quite tricky, but beautifully done.

 

Pip the gardener’s son (Sophie Cruse) was nicely understated in her role, and fulfilled the character well.  There were some nice touches of friendship between Pip and the Princess.

 

Silly Simon (Josh Cottle) played his part very well indeed.  His connection to the audience was excellent, as was his timing.

 

Lucy the maid (Lily Pitman) played her part well but could have been stronger I feel. She was up against Silly Simon - who put her in the shade!

 

The Chorus were very good in supporting the leads and making the show realistic and believable.  They each gave the impression of being a separate character, and maintained it well.  The singing was good and had pace.   They created a wonderful party atmosphere that the audience easily caught. 

 

Thank you for a fine evening of entertainment from an original script. The standard of the production was very high and this was a show you should all be proud of.  I look forward to seeing Katrina’s next effort!