Review: Sleeping Beauty – Easter Panto At The Epstein Theatre

Kyle Corrin as Silly Billy Credit David Munn
Review by Nigel Smith JUST when you thought Panto season was over, LHK Productions are back at the Epstein with a family treat for the Easter Holiday period. Once again the inimitable Michael Chapman has written and directed this production of Sleeping Beauty and, with him back on stage in several wardrobes full of frocks as Nurse Nellie, audiences need to strap themselves firmly into their seats and prepare to laugh themselves to tears. It’s a tightly cast show with warm performances from Lucy Edge as the somnolent Princess and 911 star Lee Brennan as her Prince Charming, ably supported by Melanie Ash’s Good Fairy. As always, producer Lee Kelly populates the stage with dancers from his own LHK Youth Theatre as well as four other dance schools. Maintaining the youthful theme for the show is a stonking performance from a 16 year old Kyle Corrin as Silly Billy. He certainly knows how to work an audience and oozes confidence from every pore.  Tina Malone really revels in the menace of the evil fairy Carabosse, and her charisma on stage is tremendous. Chapman’s dialogue is pitched really well as the sort of family fun that just about manages to slip its innuendo under the kids’ radar, but there are countless “did he really say that?” moments. There might have been some explaining to do if the children even cared about the bits they don’t get, but they’re almost certainly all far too busy lapping up the sheer fun of it. The classic audience participation round of Old Macdonald is dependent on the cooperation of some willing volunteers, but there never seems to be a shortage of children wanting to share the stage with this dame. The traditional story of Sleeping Beauty has had some major surgery here, but the end result is proper family entertainment with plenty of glitter, a lively band, and a cast who throw their all into making sure everyone has a good time. And with Michael Chapman, Tina Malone and Kyle Corrin in such command of the audience it’s impossible not to be beguiled by it. Sleeping Beauty is at the Epstein Theatre until Sunday 23rd April.