Georgie Bolwell casts a critical eye over Theatr Clwyd’s revival of Peter Rowe’s Sleeping Beauty – The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto directed by Zoe Waterman.
Directed by Zoe Waterman, Theatr Clwyd’s revival of Peter Rowe’s much-loved Sleeping Beauty – The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto is a roaring success. This production has done the rounds several times before, most notably at Theatr Clwyd in 2011 and, although it has been slightly updated to include jokes about referendums and current political figures, the performances have remained full of Christmas joy and enthusiasm. The fact is, the “rock and roll pantomimes” are a delightful alternative to the more traditional variety. Popular stories like Jack and the Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White have all been given the rock and roll treatment by writer and director Peter Rowe.
Baby Princess Susie has been cursed by Morgana the Malevolent – she is consigned to a destiny where she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday. Overcome by fear for his daughter, the king orders all sharp objects removed from the kingdom and sends his precious child to live in sheltered safety with a lonely nurse and her adopted son, Simon Steadfast. When she returns to her father on her 16th birthday, Susie pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep for 100 years. Simon kisses her awake, but Morgana’s plans are not over and she brings in her son, Mordred, as a rival for Susie’s affection.
As the title suggests, the soundtrack to this classic tale is full of classic rock and pop music from a selection of different eras, playing out alongside the traditional innuendos, audience participation, and hit cast. Firm favourites from this year’s performance include Rowan Talbot as King Candlestick Camelot, Emmy Stonelake as Frederica, (fairy-in-training) and of course, the wonderful Sean McKenzie as the dame, Nurse Tabetha Trott. Several members of the cast doubled up their roles, and each and every one of them played several instruments as part of the mutable and talented band.
The whole performance from start to finish was an absolute delight, full of energy and fun – the most important ingredients of any pantomime. Highlights include the game of rugby played with the baby princess as the ball set to the Welsh National Anthem; the three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos, and Domestos; and the fantastic rendition of Lady Marmalade performed by the four leading actresses. A hilarious, big-hearted production, and a festive triumph.
To find out about upcoming productions from Theatr Clwyd visit their website.
Georgie Bolwell is a contributor to Wales Arts Review.