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Sleeping Beauty (Oldham)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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It’s a measure of how popular Oldham Coliseum pantomimes are that tickets have already gone on sale for the 2011/12 production, Dick Whittington. This year’s Sleeping Beauty sticks to the usual template: clean gags, breezy musical numbers, and a wonderfully OTT dame. It makes for a thoroughly entertaining family night out.  

Panto stalwart Eric Potts litters his script with plenty of topical and local references (full marks for the Metrolink gag): Sue Devaney - as evil witch Carabosse - gets most of the best ones. Dressed like a Marilyn Manson concubine, and goading the audience at every turn, Devaney delivers a virtuoso comic turn; in any other genre, a performance this good would be showered with awards.

It’s not a one-woman show however: Heledd Baskerville is likeably ditsy as the Fairy Rainbow fairy; as sidekick Larry Occlesthorpe, Richard J Fletcher manages the trick of being both gormless and kind hearted. The improbably named Fine Time Fontayne returns for the third year running, and is a delightfully daft dame; he also gets to dress up like Lady GaGa and Katie Perry.    

Director Kevin Shaw directs with plenty of zip and inventive business. Highlight of the evening came when Prince Lorenzo (Amy Rhiannon Worth) arrived at the chamber of the dozing Princess Rose (Nicole Evans). “I’ve never kissed anyone before”, dithered the Prince. “Well just do it then!” bellowed one hyperactive, spectacle-wearing boy - a moment that brought the house down. On this evidence, expect another sell-out production. 

- Stephen Timms

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