With panto season now in full swing we ventured down the A12 and crossed the border into Essex and pantoland at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre.
Over the year’s this theatre’s offering has become an annual treat for us and once again they didn’t disappoint with Sleeping Beauty.
It’s always hard to add something different to such well-known tales but the cast and production crew certainly have managed it this year. The costumes are breathtaking, as are the hairstyles which almost give the cast a cartoon feel in look and vibrancy.
First up is Sasha Latoya as a rapping Fairy Fizz to set the scene and give us a taste of what is to come. We then are introduced to the various key players in the tale, Princess (although she doesn’t know she’s a princess) Luna played by Alexandra Barredo, who while looking tiny delivers some gigantic vocals. Then there’s Mercury favourite Dale Superville Spud Piper and of course Anthony Stuart-Hicks as the Dame Maris Piper.
Over the year’s I’ve said that Stuart-Hicks is probably the best panto dame I’ve seen and this view has not changed, think Lily Savage. His comic timing and quick wit with lots of participation with the audience are brilliant.
What I probably haven’t acknowledged though is the terrific chemistry between Stuart-Hicks and Superville. This pair have worked together so often that they are basically a double-act that isn’t a double-act. There’s countless ad-libs between the pair and they seem to enjoy this as much as the audience and this in turn makes for a really fun time for everybody as that enjoyment spills off the stage into the audience.
But there are many more cast members adding to the magic, Polo, Princess Luna’s pet penguin is played brilliantly by Matthew Forbes, Jaimie Pruden is a truly awful (in the best way) villainess Carabosse. All of these assisted by the supporting cast of players and dancers.
There’s lots of tunes you will know, albeit with some slightly altered lyrics, all the slapstick fun everything else you’d expect from a pantomime. With a few little surprises….
Just before the end of the first half there is what can only be described as a magical wow moment in special effects that elevates this production even more! (No spoilers from me…. Go and experience it!)
A great panto for all the family, is at the Mercury, Colchester until 14th January, 2024. www.mercurytheatre.co.uk or 01206 573948
Review: Mark Keable, Ipswich24 Magazine
Pictures: Pamela Raith
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