Panto review: Dame Dolly Dumpling delights in Kenneth More’s Sleeping Beauty

The cast of Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre. Picture: Roy Chacko

The cast of Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre. Picture: Roy Chacko - Credit: Archant

Panto is a unique British tradition and not something we have in America where this reporter is from.

Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre. Picture: Roy Chacko

Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre. Picture: Roy Chacko - Credit: Archant

When I moved to England and first heard of panto my first thought was: "Why?"

Why in a country with arguably the best theatre and acting in the world does such an old fashioned tradition prevail in this day and age?

Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre. Picture: Roy Chacko

Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre. Picture: Roy Chacko - Credit: Archant

After seeing the faces of the children light up during the production of Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre I know the answer.

The show began with the voice of Kerry Katona as the evil stepsister Caraboose warning the audience she would punish anyone she sees with a phone - meanwhile the children all around me were holding up spinning glow lights and screaming their heads off.

The cast of Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre. Picture: Roy Chacko

The cast of Sleeping Beauty at the Kenneth More Theatre. Picture: Roy Chacko - Credit: Archant


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Surely if the kids have their toys we can have ours as well?

The audience obeyed and the fun began.

Bobby Crush plays the dame and Kerry Katona stars as wicked witch Carabosse. Picture: Rob Brown

Bobby Crush plays the dame and Kerry Katona stars as wicked witch Carabosse. Picture: Rob Brown - Credit: Archant

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Dame Dolly Dumpling is played by Bobby Crush and the highlight of the night was a show-stopping piano number that had the adorable chorus of children dancing up a storm.

Bobby is best known as a musician and pianist and that number alone showed he doesn't need to quit his day job.

Sleeping Beauty will run at the Kenneth More Theatre from December 14 to January 12. Picture: Rob Br

Sleeping Beauty will run at the Kenneth More Theatre from December 14 to January 12. Picture: Rob Brown - Credit: Archant

The music for the most part was great, particularly from Lauren Platt as Princess Aurora and Krishana Parker as Fairy Starlight.

Unfortunately some of the musical numbers from Kerry Katona, of Atomic Kitten fame and winner of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, fell a little flat.

Darren Hart and Lauren Platt play Prince Percy and Princess Aurora. Picture: Rob Brown

Darren Hart and Lauren Platt play Prince Percy and Princess Aurora. Picture: Rob Brown - Credit: Archant

There was one particularly neat set piece with Kerry on a flying motorcycle singing Blondie's One Way or Another, which was an impressive feat of stage direction for a small production.

However the fog machine was on so thick that Caraboose was almost submerged in smoke and it didn't have the full effect it could've had.

Sleeping Beauty opens at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford, on December 14. Picture: Rob Brown

Sleeping Beauty opens at the Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford, on December 14. Picture: Rob Brown - Credit: Archant

A highlight of the show was Karl Greenwood as Wally who was clearly the kids favourite.

The show was rounded out by Arif Javid as the mad king Stefan and perfect Prince Percy, played by Darren Hart of Wanstead, who had a lot of fun with their roles.

To book tickets visit visionrcl.org.uk/event/sleeping-beauty.

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