I look forward to the panto season all year and I’m delighted to say this year’s Garrick panto – script by Paul Hendy, directed by Tim Ford – is bigger, slicker and funnier than ever with production values to rival national shows on every level.
And it’s got a knock-out cast. Jo-anne Stevens makes a truly lovely Sleeping Beauty, while Ian Billings as her father makes a delightfully vague King. Lloyd Davies is perfect as the handsome prince who falls for her. Rebecca Keatley from CBeebies is a charming Fairy Moonbeam, while Siani Owen is terrifyingly beautiful as the evil witch Carabosse. Ben Thornton comes close to stealing the show as the delightful Jangles with a freshness that brings the whole show to charming life.
But there’s always a star and here the award must go to Sam Rabone as Nurse Nellie – now a very welcome city resident to boot – who is in the tradition of some of the greatest panto dames, in fact a huge new star.
It’s full of delightful treats, the calling out, the scary monster chase around the auditorium, the water guns. The welcome return of the traditional wet bathroom scene was one of the funniest I’ve ever seen.
My new 11 year old assistant (“I’ll be twelve next week!”) Jay-Jay Green tells it like it is:
“At first I thought the Garrick panto was going to be a bit girly because when you think of a sleeping beauty and you think of a girl’s show. But it was great!
“There was a bit of romance but fortunately a lot of comedy and I thought it was the funniest panto I’ve ever seen. When I watched the booby-trapped bathroom scene I was laughing my head off because there was a lot more water than you thought could come out of one bathroom.
“I think this is a must-see panto because there’s not too much romance (just a couple of parts where there was kissing!) but a lot of it is funny – extremely funny!
“For kids like me I would say this panto is really great. This Sleeping Beauty is very family-friendly because the people who acted in it involved the audience massively – they kept talking to them – especially the Dame (who was a man dressed up as a woman) and who liked a member of the audience called Jamie.
“But the best thing of all was the dragon. It was really spectacular – there was fire and it looked really real and there was heat from real flames.
“I really recommend this panto and it is well worth the money and you will definitely come out of the Garrick with a smile on your face.”
Sleeping Beauty runs until December 31. For tickets phone the Box Office on 01543 412121 or go online.