Not long to go till Christmas, surely you’re in the festive spirit? If not, no worries… I wasn’t either till I took a recent trip to the panto.
Together with an abundance of slapstick, humour, music and spectacle, it’s impossible to walk out of a pantomime without that magical feeling. The Key Theatre is home to Sleeping Beauty. I went to see it recently and I’m still smiling from ear to ear.
The 2hr 15min show (including an interval) follows the story of King Donald Trumpet and Queen Iona Trumpet, who do their best to protect their child, Aurora (played by Rebecca Levy who’s previously been on stage in Legally Blonde, Kiss Me Kate and First Lady Suite) after she’s cursed by an evil witch.
The panto villain here is Carabosse (Lauren Storer – fresh from appearing in the national tour of Footloose), who sends the princess into a deep sleep, only to be woken up by her betrothed.
The supporting cast includes three fairies, Chamberlain Potty and Jingles the Jester – who all oozed as much talent as the key actors. Not one person on that stage felt out of place.
There were jokes here for both children and adults, meaning there’s something for everyone. My personal favourites included the presence of King Donald Trumpet resulting in a few jabs at the President of the United States, also an ongoing gag about Jingles being confused about his feelings towards a Prince (who’s played by a female).
Simon Egerton returns again this year as the director, writer, composer and lyricist. Simon is now a regular fixture at the Key Theatre having worked on panto’s since Cinderella back in 2013. Rob Hazle also returns as the musical director and plays the part of Potty the Chamberlain, following his role as Uncle Billy in Dick Whittington last year.
I’ve always admired how the Key team often write their own music but worried the kids wouldn’t be as into songs they weren’t familiar with. This year they’ve met us half way with a mixture of tunes we know and love, mixed with original material. Seeing the band on the stage was also a great touch.
Now, pantomime isn’t a pantomime without a dame and this year the dame’s played by the man of countless faces – Fred Broom. Fred is no stranger to the stage (or frocks) as the multi-talented funny man has played dame and drag as well as appearing in Wind in the Willows, Into the Woods and Sweeney Todd. He did a fantastic job as Queen Iona Trumpet, providing over-the-top slapstick comic relief right when it’s needed the most.
The children’s chorus includes 30 kids making up the 3 teams, who rotate through the 60 shows – all singing, dancing and acting their hearts out. Their involvement in a scene with animal puppets saw them get a much-deserved round of applause from the entire audience. A truly stand-out moment.
As for the venue, the 360 seat venue allows for a real intimate setting. You feel like you’re part of the show. Also, the seats are tiered, meaning wherever you’re sat, you’re guaranteed a great view.
Overall, I feel the Key Theatre panto team have upped their game this year. The set, talent and choreography was truly outstanding. They managed to make the show feel fresh whilst keeping all the key ingredients we expect and love to see.
Sleeping Beauty runs through until January 7, 2018 with tickets ranging from £10 to £18.50. Secure yours by calling the Key Theatre on 01733 207239 or visit www.vivacity-peterborough.com/panto