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Last night was a spectacular opening night of Bonnie Lythgoe's Sleeping Beauty. This is the old tale of Sleeping Beauty, but not like you've ever seen it before!
The show is top notch; everything from sets, costumes, props, the flying and special effects, the quality of the sound and the lighting is all done to perfection. The script is delightful and so witty! When you bring your daughter to a pantomime and laugh as hard (and even more) than her throughout the show, well, that is a sign of a superb script.
All this is the backdrop that enables the highly talented performers to shine on stage. The show features a fabulous cast. The evil yet sensitive Carabosse is played by Rhonda Burchmore. She blames her wickedness on being heartbroken by King Louis. Throughout the night she breaks into a song that expresses her emotions - like Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time". Burchmore has a voice that brings the house down. She sparks up the audience into a frenzy. As much as Carabosse is booed by the audience, everyone is enamoured by Melissa Tkaut who is a perfect fit for the good fairy. Tikautz narrates the pantomime along. She glides on and off the stage and does her magic that ensures Carabosse does not succeed in her heinous plans. Although gentle, she stuns the audience with her powerful, honey-like voice.
Sleeping Beauty is played by Embla Bishop who is delicate, just as you would expect of a princess. Her prince, the dashing Daniel Milne displays admirable qualities of bravery and kindness. As soon as the prince meets his princess their mutual attraction is immediately felt as they entwine in conversation.
On her birthday, Sleeping Beauty feels alone and sad. The enigmatic princess sings Tina Arena's song "I'm in Chains" as she feels trapped in the confines of the castle as a way to protect her against Carabosse's evil spell. She ventures into areas of the palace that she has never been to, in curiosity.
When finally Sleeping Beauty falls prey to Carabosse and pricks her finger on a spindle, the ensemble comes on stage and escort her into 100 years of sleep. This troupe are brilliant on the stage. Their movements are so fluid as though they are made of plasticine and the female dancers look wild like cat women. The junior ensemble is an impressive group of young actors who also shine with their fabulous voices and flawless dance techniques. Together they light up the stage. The choreography is spectacular.
The one actor who always wins me over is Kev Orkian. This time Kev plays Silly Billy. All Kev needs to do is his cheeky smile and that alone charms the audience. This man oozes charisma. Well, he does much more than smile. He is the central character in most of the hilarious slapstick scenes. There are too many funnies to list here. One scene that comes to mind is where Silly Billy and Nanny Tickle, played wonderfully by Katrina Retallick, are baking a surprise birthday cake for the princess. Nanny Tickle relays some information to Silly Billy to pass onto King Louis, played by Frazer Hines. The amount of information to relay builds up into one of the funniest tongue-twisters so that even the actors break into an unexpected giggle when they find themselves a bit tied up for words.
This is a wonderful show to take the whole family - adults included! You will have fun and be transported to the wonderful world of pantomime.
Sleeping Beauty is showing in Melbourne at The Comedy Theatre until July 8. Then, the show travels to Sydney State Theatre until June 22.