The South Wales Echo’s Review of Imagine Theatre’s Sleeping Beauty at the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl – 2012

It’s panto time again...oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is...well, you get the picture.

The cast of Sleeping Beauty, Porthcawl, 2012

There will be plenty of shows to choose from this festive season, but if there is more fun to be had than this vibrant offering then I will be very surprised. After last year’s brilliant Cinderella at the same venue, some of the same cast were back and a few fresh faces added for a take on the classic Sleeping Beauty – and once again the result was a real Christmas treat for all the family.

The great thing was the show was traditional, but with a real Welsh twist to proceedings. Valleys accents abounded and the performances were charming and hilarious throughout. Jessica Batty as Princess Belle was just delightful and was my daughter Nina’s favourite, along with the dashing Prince Valiant played by the excellent Jenny Phillips.

The sets and costumes were dazzling. The scene where our heroes zip forward 100 years in a hastily built time machine was spectacular and belied the surely modest budget spent on it. The song and dance numbers had the youngsters bopping along. Special mention must go to choreographer and dancer Ryan Patrick who really has done a top job.

But what lies at the heart of this Sleeping Beauty’s success was the fine ensemble acting. The performers were like a gang having real fun together and the audience just couldn’t help but be caught up in the enthusiasm. Jessica Sandry as the evil Caraboose revelled in her role and was soon getting booed and hissed every time she appeared on stage looking like a mad cross between Kate Bush and the Bride of Frankenstein. But the real stars of the show were Stefan Pejic as boys’ and girls’ favourite Josh the Jester and Vern Griffiths as the formidable Nurse Nanny Nora.

Pejic had an instant rapport with the audience and lit up the stage each time he came on. Griffiths meanwhile was just hilarious, particularly when meandering off script to make the type of jokes maybe only the adults got. His dame was like a force of nature clad in some of the most ludicrous costumes you are ever likely to see.

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