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Review: Sleeping Beauty at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

Richard Edmonds reviews Sleeping Beauty at The Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton.

Sleeping Beauty at The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
****
Gavin Dickinson The full cast of Sleeping Beauty at The Grand Theatre
The full cast of Sleeping Beauty at The Grand Theatre

The old story of Sleeping Beauty gets a hasty make-over into a panto spectacular in this lavish production.

The original plot begins with Beauty’s birth to general rejoicing. Here, it begins with the bad fairy Carabosse (the terrific Wendy Somerville) cursing Beauty who has suddenly become 18 (well, it’s pantoland I suppose so time-slips are part of the seasonal game).

Panto producer Qdos Entertainment usually go in for technical fireworks and this year is no exception. When Carabosse enters at one point, flames shoot up and you hold your breath for the safety of the Good Fairy’s gauzy dress, but there are no worries and in any case your concerns are driven out of your head by the huge decibels which continually crash on stage.

Cinderella is a favourite panto which has Buttons yearning for the love of Cinders. Here ( it is panto, remember) Joe Pasquale is Muddles, Beauty’s love-struck mate, a homely servant in love with a real lady.

You either love Mr Pasquale or you hate him. I must confess some of his material I found difficult to take, and occasionally I was left feeling slightly queasy. In fact I rarely laughed. One flatulence gag is enough, more become stomach turning.

But there are many good things here and foremost is Ceri Dupree, as Queen Passionella, Beauty’s mother. Mr Dupree is currently foremost in the cabaret field of high drag, appearing here in a succession of gorgeous costumes which the late, great Danny La Rue might well have envied, even wearing a real peacock feather headdress at one point.

A last word of praise for a handsome, well-dressed dance company who give all their numbers a great deal of welly – these young men and women light up the stage and make a terrific contribution to the evening.

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