Review: Sleeping Beauty at the Derby Arena

Writer: Morgan Brind

Director: Scott Ramsay

Panto season is still underway at the Derby Arena with this epic production of Sleeping Beauty, but not quite as you know it.

You may be surprised at how early Sleeping Beauty is reawaken, and that opens up a chance for the book by Morgan Brind to undergo twists and turns you wouldn’t necessarily expect in the traditional tale. The plot changes that are made are a clever move by Brind to keep truthful to the original story, while giving it an extra spark. If anything the twists could have perhaps gone further, such as the the haphazard Prince that’s introduced at the start being an ongoing theme to really add a different take to the story, but that being said the changes do still add a modern take on the take and allow you to meet some new characters along the way.

As well as designing and writing the production, Bring also performs as Nurse Nancy. With slick banter, a brilliant sequence of quick changes and clver word play he brings a lot of family friendly humour to the production.

From a UV trip through the forest, to a ghost scene in the woods and fantastic slosh scene with mess galore this production is a feast for your eyes and contains all the elements of a great big extravagant family panto. You’ll even get not one, but two giant experiences including a terrifying spider and a ferocious dragon too! It all adds to a truly specular event at a very budget friendly price.

Hamming it up in the role of Carabosse is Rita Simons and there’s no stopping this panto pro. From Simons’ perfect showstopper I will prevail to her ability to work an audience, she makes it look so easy. Panto is so reliant on audience participation and Simons manages to get the crowd going to bounce off.

Hats off to India Rich as well who covered the role of Princess Rose during today’s performance. Rich’s sweet but feisty performance made for a likable princess who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty to get her happily ever after.

Richard Brindley is becoming a regular at Derby Pantos, now in their third year and its understandable why he goes down so well. Brindley’s charming charisma makes him a likeable Mervin the Magician, full of wit and humour. Don’t be fooled by his laughable attempts at tricks though, as he may just have one or two up his sleeve that will be sure to amaze you.

The song choices are beautifully chosen to help tell the story. The Rose for example is used to condense the transition of Sleeping Beauty growing up, her first meeting with Prince Alan and the hatching of the St John the Dragon which into just a couple of minutes which allows the plot to move on quickly without losing the attention of younger members of the audiences.

With over 1200 seats, it’s no easy space to produce a panto, but the team at Derby Live & Little Wolf Entertainment have done just that with spectacular results. With a witty script, lage company numbers and an all round great production. As you enter the arena you’ll see the huge stage and proscenium, covered in sparkle and depth and that scale just doesn’t stop in this panto with the wow factor.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Four stars value for money
Value for Money Comments:
A giant panto treat for the whole family priced at the very reasonable price points at between £13.50 and £31.50.

🎁This production was gifted in exchange for a fair and balanced review

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