Review: Sleeping Beauty

Review: Sleeping Beauty

Graham Williams - South Wales Evening Post, 17 December 2008

Monday, 15th December 2008 at Pontardawe Arts Centre

Director/choreographer Jill Williams has an unerring ability not only for getting the best out of the performers who appear in her productions, but also as principal of the thriving Class Act Theatre School drawing young people out of their shell and enabling them to display the kind of confidence, character and presence that will serve them well throughout their lives, whether or not they opt for a stage career.

It is inevitable, then, that this panto blessed with a witty and topical script from Georgina Scannell MBE and musical direction from Carolyn Davies should turn out to be such a hugely enjoyable and feelgood show.

My only problem as a reviewer is to pinpoint the individual performers who excel in their roles, given the fact that the cast is so large and every single character on the stage from the principle players right through to a troupe of fairies named after days of the week, each with their own distinctive personality is given plenty to do and manages to hit the spot every time.

The scene-stealer, of course, is Anthony Argyle (Nurse Bunty), a panto dame with a real talent for comedy and a variety of suitably garish frocks and wigs. Strong performances, too, on the opening night (it is worth noting some roles throughout the run are shared between two performers) from Bethan Mitchell as Princess Aurora, Zoe Richards as Queen Victoria, Josh Cook as King Dafydd, Rachel Tregembo as Fairy Holiday, Hannah Dunne as the villainous Fairy Cola, Ashley Rogers as Sprite (Cola, Sprite geddit?) and James Williams as Prince Peter.

I also enjoyed the comic turns from Glyn Lloyd and Thomas Drewson as Princes Tudor and Mervyn, as well as Kate Harwood and Nia Powell's double act as Belinda and Benitta.

In less skilled hands, the aforementioned fairies would have been relegated to the ranks of the chorus, but here each one was blessed with a voice and a personality: Sophia Jones-Gammon, Ruby Walker, Siobhan Fitzgerald, Lauren Rogers, Amber Williams, Isabel Walker and Taylor Brett fared splendidly, and I am confident the alternative group Cerys Thompson, Hannah Grenfell, Molly Humphreys, Ella Davies, Connie Robertson, Alicia Colarusso and Domenique Jones will also perform well during the show's run.

Young people such as these are the future of the theatre, and I suspect there are some real characters emerging here who might go on to pursue a career in the performing arts.

Sleeping Beauty ends its run at Pontardawe Arts Centre on Monday, December 22. Miss it at your peril.

Graham Williams
South Wales Evening Post, Wednesday 17th December

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