Leeds City Varieties’ legendary Rock ‘n’ Roll pantomime kicks off Christmas, retelling the story of Sleeping Beauty through hit songs played and performed live on stage.
Peter Rowe’s script caters for all ages, brimming full of rhyming couplets, contemporary references and tongue-in-cheek gags. The tale of the baby princess cursed by a witch to sleep for 100 years is told mostly through runabout comedy and song, with innovative segues into popular hits whose relevance to the plot are, often, hilariously thin. The Rock ‘n’ Roll panto’s formula works, however, ripping along at a relentless pace, ensuring kids are fully attended with slapstick fun whilst parents are never far from bopping to a toe-tapping tune.
At the core of the production are some irresistibly upbeat musical numbers, including a raw version of Witchy Woman with funky covers of Superstition and Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag. Eighties hits abound, including a bonkers version I’m Every Woman and Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, with a mashed up version of Michael Jackson’s Bad. Nostalgic and hip, Sleeping Beauty’s chart-topping numbers are guaranteed to entertain all, arranged live on stage through brass, electric guitar and drums.
Robust casting ensures that Sleeping Beauty is full of big characters. Lindsay Goodhand and Katia Sartini deliver effective sprinkles of fairy magic throughout, whilst Bethan-Wyn Davies and Alex Wingfield are endearingly cute as the lovestruck leads. Standout performances include Kenny Davies and the mighty Dyfrig Morris as a perfect pratfalling duo, whilst Justin Brett’s Dame Taffeta Trott is impressively lewd and lurid. Hannah Price is particularly dastardly in a centred and dark performance as Morgana the beautiful witch, next to Dan Bottomley who steals scenes as an outrageously metrosexual Mordred.
Production values have been stepped up this year, with a beautifully crafted mezzanine set and impressive lighting. Costume is also richly detailed, offering Eastern influences in colourful layers. Whilst the stage is petite and personal, Sleeping Beauty fills every inch with detail and action, providing scope and scale on an intimate level.
Offering the legendary boulder dash and some new surprises, this pantomime is well worth a visit and is an excellent introduction for children to the world of theatre. The runabout comedy provides plenty of laughs, whilst fistfuls of near-the-knuckle jokes will pry plenty of titters from adults. Bundled up with upbeat renditions of classic popular hits, Sleeping Beauty The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto guarantees festive fun for all the family. As if that wasn’t enough; City Varieties also offers a very cosy upstairs bar with a fine selection of winter warmers – a highly recommended interval retreat.
Cast: Justin Brett, Bethan-Wyn Davies, Alex Wingfield, Dyfrig Morris, Hannah Price, Dan Bottomley, Lisa Goodhand, Kenny Davies, Katie Sartini, Scott Haining. Director: Matt Aston Writer: Peter Rowe Theatre: Leeds City Varieties Music Hall Duration: 150 minutes Dates: Saturday 26th November 2016 – Sunday 8th January 2017.