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December 2006
Sleeping Beauty
reviewed by Jon Mareno in
The Isle of Wight County Press

(reproduced by kind permission of the Isle of Wight County Press)

THE evil witch Carabosse may have cast a spell on a princess to sleep for 100 years but it had no effect on the audience, which enthusiastically received Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society’s panto production of Sleeping Beauty.

Considering the stormy weather, the Christmas panto season got off to an encouraging start with a half-full Trinity Theatre.
A lively set of characters, backed by a large support cast of youngsters, took us through this well-loved tale of good triumphing over evil.

Wayne Child as Queen Formica provided a robust and amusingly over-the-top dame, with Paul Birch, as King Fred, a good foil for her painfully awful jokes.

Anita Davies relished playing the suitably nasty Carabosse, accompanied by her hissing rats, James and Cagney. Maria Wilkinson put in a strong, assured performance as Prince Richard of Ruritania, Sleeping Beauty’s prince charming. Her diction was clear, her expressions welcoming and she showed great stage presence throughout.

Dennis Pennis lookalike Grant Farley, as Bimbo, was, like the popular television character he resembles, a lively jester who gained an excellent rapport with all sections of the audience.

Talented Bryony Davies, an accomplished Irish dancer and harpist, acted well in the lead role.

Directed by Daphne Brown, the panto seemed to lack pace at times and was not by any means a CAODS classic, though overall it was entertaining and the youngsters in the cast jolly good.

The staging and sound effects were adequate, with the backdrops looking almost as tired as Princess Beauty.

The sound quality was unacceptable at times, particularly during the introduction of the princess’s potential suitors. It was impossible, unless sitting in the front few rows, to hear what some of them were saying.

Jon Mareno


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