Sleeping Beauty, at Birmingham Hippodrome
With the release of high-tech films like Avatar, the Hippodrome is feeling the pressure to keep up with the times.
This year’s production features two chunks of 3D film. The technology used is much more advanced than that which appeared two years ago and really makes the show.
As we sit with our 3D glasses, we’re taken on a magical and scary journey through Sleeping Beauty’s kingdom. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard children – and quite a few adults – squeal as loudly as when spiders, snakes and an ogre come flying out at our faces.
It’s disappointing, though, that the traditional part of panto has been neglected at the expense of modern wizardry.
The part near the end where children are invited up on stage for a singalong was sadly absent. And we didn’t get many topical jokes, apart from a couple of references to Tiger Woods and Jedward.
With a very slight story, the production feels too padded at times with extraneous song and dance numbers and slapstick routines.
If you’re under 12, the star of the show is Joe Pasquale as Muddles, who we are supposed to believe is 21. He acts much younger with his toilet humour.
For adults, the main attraction is brilliant drag act Ceri Dupree as Lady Passionella. His quick changes into more than 20 ever-more outrageous outfits are extraordinary.
“This is my West Brom dress,” he says of one. “Very little support and no cups.”
He also does good impressions of Shirley Bassey, Amy Winehouse and Tina Turner.
Ray Quinn is a little bland as Prince Daniel of Dudley, while Churchill the nodding dog briefly appears for no apparent reason.
Sleeping Beauty is full of fun and chuckles though lacking in a couple of real belly laughs.
Until January 31st