The Sleeping Beauty (Hornchurch – panto)

Hornchurch’s Queen’s Theatre has a tradition of slightly off-beat takes on the traditional pantomime stories.

Simon Jessop, Thomas Sutcliffe, Fred Broom and Sam Pay
Simon Jessop, Thomas Sutcliffe, Fred Broom and Sam Pay
© Mark Sepple

This version of The Sleeping Beauty is by Nicholas Pegg with music and lyrics by the Queen's Theatre's head of music Carol Sloman. In it the hero is not a prince but Tom, the son of Nurse Nellie Clutterbuck; his brother Billy is the court jester.

if Fairy Primrose (Megan Leigh Mason) is a benevolent influence for King Ethelbert the Unsteady (Fred Broom)'s realm, that's certainly not true of Fairy Carabosse. Claire Storey swishes across the stage all glitter and malevolence in her attempts to regain the fairy realm.

You know what happens when Princess Aurora (Rachel Dawson) grows up. Guided by Fairy Primrose but equally hampered by Nellie (Simon Jessop) and Billy (Sam Pay), Tom (Thomas Sutcliffe) defeats the forces of evil and wins the hand of the girl he loves.

The costumes and sets by Mark Walters are sumptuous and Matt Devitt's direction keeps the story on track, in spite of the two main comic characters. Jessop is now experienced in the Dame parts and bears the increasing elaborate and outrageous outfits with aplomb.

Dawson and Sutcliffe make a charming couple of romantic leads and put over their songs captivatingly. Donna Berlin's choreography for both the principals and the juvenile chorus provides some nifty routines. As always with the cut to the chase… company, cast members when offstage double as instrumentalists.

The Sleeping Beauty runs at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch until 10 January.