If you are looking for some top quality, highly enjoyable, classically traditional, family-friendly entertainment these school holidays, then look no further than the latest panto offering from Bonnie Lythgoe and the team at Oz Panto, Sleeping Beauty – A Knights Avengers Tale.
Beauty is the pure definition of a panto – a fun blend of songs from the past four decades, up-to-date pop culture and current event references (hello Doctor Who Tardis) and, of course, cheers for the good guys and boos for the bad guys. Audience participation is encouraged and an integral part of the enjoyment of the show.
There are two elements that make Beauty a particularly pitch-perfect panto – the casting and the special effects. I’m not going to give too much away on the special effects, because it really is quite a wonderful moment or two.
Daniel Milne as Prince Valiant, Matt Geronimi as Chambers and Cameron Taylor as Cousins are all wonderfully delightful in their roles as hero, comedian and evil sidekick.
Nanny Tickly is charmingly portrayed by Katrina Retallick, who holds her own in the comedy chops. Sleeping Beauty herself is played by Embla Bishop, with all the charm and grace that would be expected as a princess.
Panto legend Frazer Hines makes a fantastic King Louis, who spent a lot of opening night unable to contain his own laughter on stage. The Good Fairy is brought to gloriously glitter-filled and rhyming life by Melissa Tkautz.
However, the show is completely stolen by Kev Orkian as Silly Billy and Rhonda Burchmore as Carabosse.
Orkian was just a whole bunch of fun to watch, from his impeccable comedic timing, to his audience interaction and the simple glee he brings to Silly Billy.
With every sly nod of acknowledgement to the boos that she was greeted with, Burchmore is delightfully and devilishly decadent in her portrayal of Carabosse. When she gets the chance to belt out her big number, it reminds you why she is one of the true treasures of Australian musical theatre.
I personally wasn’t a fan of the pre-recorded music and backing vocals, and there were a few sound level issues on opening night, but small niggles compared to the overall production quality of the show.
I must admit, this is only the second panto I’ve ever seen and even though I’m a fair bit older than the target audience for this production, I was swept up in the sheer silliness and interaction of it all (oh no there isn’t).
Very much highly recommended for the kids and grown up kids alike.
SLEEPING BEAUTY – A KNIGHT AVENGER’S TALE
Dates: Playing now until 22 July, 2018
Venue: State Theatre, Sydney (49 Market Street, Sydney)
Prices: From $52.95 – $97.95 plus Family Tickets available
Bookings: Ticketmaster.com.au or 1300 139 588