STURMINSTER Newton Amateur Dramatic Society’s annual pantomime Sleeping Beauty was everything a community panto should be. It was slick, the songs were well chosen, well sung and (above all) nice and short, there was some clever choreography and, with a talented company of about two dozen performers covering the whole age range, there were opportunities for all.
Heading the cast was Ian Greig as traditional pantomime dame Marigold Glove. Clearly a well-known and popular figure in Sturminster Newton, (s)he achieved an instant rapport with the audience who enjoyed the witty banter and corny jokes, suitably punctuated with boom-booms from the drums of course. Trevor Puckett and Vanessa Dawson played the King and Queen of Hearts – I particularly liked their performance of Chu-Chi Face – while, as the three good fairies, Alan Morris, Anna Neville and Mark Steggles made sure that those with a taste for rather more adult humour were kept entertained. I loved the chief fairy’s “headmistressiness” while the trio’s suitably re-worded rendition of G and S’s Three Little Maids from School was one of the highlights of the show.
Several younger members of the cast, too, were outstanding. Kirsty Price, as the bad fairy Poison Ivy, added a touch of real glamour to the proceedings and her performance of the Coldplay song Trouble was another of the evening’s highlights. Her backing group of goblins and spirits deserve special mention here too, with their spooky costumes and highly polished dance routine. Dave Meakin, playing Marigold’s son Andy, also gave a talented performance, jam-packed full of theatrical energy. Both are to be congratulated on their real professionalism, not least for the way they dealt with the good-natured heckling they received from certain members of the audience!
The love interest was provided by the Sleeping Beauty herself, of course, and Prince Rupert. As Princess Snowdrop, Sophie Lumb’s fine singing of Somewhere Over the Rainbow was another of the many musical highlights while, with just the right amount of thigh slapping, Teegan Pearce conveyed a suitably princely sense of purpose in his/her quest for true love. Tania White was a complete and utter delight, making the very most of her cameo role as Prince Rupert’s French sidekick, Maurice, while Harry Steggles as the ear-scratching Baskerville won the hearts of every one of us. Finally, the small but lively chorus kept things bubbling along very nicely – there was always plenty for them to do – and helped keep the very wide stage in The Exchange looking full without ever being cluttered.
On the design side of things, the set and costumes were colourful, culminating in a beautiful colour co-ordinated finale, the lighting effective and the scene changes, for the most part, very smoothly executed. (There was a very loud crash from somewhere offstage on Thursday night, but fortunately, no-one seemed the worse for wear.) Last but certainly not least, the whole was accompanied by an excellent band in the form of Elaine Korman (MD and piano), Sharon Hawkes (flute), Ray Humphries (drums) and Richard Clarke (bass).
Maybe the jam-tart scene could have been tightened up, and I for one would have appreciated the words for the audience participation song, but these are small quibbles. It was a great show.
Sleeping Beauty was directed and produced by Jane Coe and Helen Lacey and runs until Saturday 14th. Catch it if you can.