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NODA review of Sleeping Beauty
Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013 5:09 pm
NODA review of Sleeping Beauty

Benenden Players
Sleeping Beauty - Written and Directed by Beverley Beveridge
Benenden Village Hall
Sunday 27th January 2013
Musical Director: Graham Beveridge

 A popular panto story of the baby princess growing up, the reversed witch's death threat turned into a mere 100 year nap and no wrinkles, the handsome prince awakening her and the kingdom living happily ever after. The undertaking of both writing and directing this panto was successfully taken on by Bev Beveridge, with a script full of local jokes, topical jokes with wonderful double entendres and a sprinkle of panto corn and slapstick thrown in the pot. Together with talented principals and large supporting cast of well rehearsed youngsters, parental support, the unsung backstage heroes, this was a fun pantomime experience.

FRONT OF HOUSE: Peter Ellis was on door duty and a charming young court lady escorted us to the raised back row where we had a splendid view. The auditorium was full and buzzing. We bought raffle tickets but regretfully no winners!

PROGRAMME: Thoughtfully influenced by Bev, an A5 12 pager in colour with an interesting mix of advertisements from supporters, notes, photos of the cast, thank yous and diary notes designed by Cogent Partnership and kindly printed by Benenden Hospital Trust.

MUSIC: What a busy and talented household for it was Graham Beveridge responsible for the great live music - Graham played keyboard with Peter Angell on mandolin and electric guitar, James Norman a Cranbrook student electric drums, Barry Bassett sax and great percussion plus Robin Vesma on bass guitar. Well chosen numbers – a very lively Blue Suede Shoes from the King, Jitterbug, Be Prepared, I Want To Be Like You, to name a few, and good Scott Joplin interludes between scene changes.

CHOREOGRAPHY: Movement was well balanced, lively and rhythmic set by Jo Clube and Andy Fogg – an excellent Jitterbug and a particularly good sequence from well rehearsed and enthusiastic Goblins.

SCENERY: The five members of the Scenery and Props team created some most imaginative, colourful and well finished sets. Particularly notable were the cottages in Act 2 with the confused Yokels. The Forest of Brambles front cloth was beautiful and the idea of the fairies adding the bramble branches worked well. Good selection of props throughout.

COSTUMES: A big task taken on by the wardrobe ladies with some outstanding results. Good finishing touches, again I mention the goblins all those ears and hats. Regal King and Queen, Tinkerbelle type fairy first class, two colourful jesters and agile monkey, and what about the stork! Perfect tunic and head gear for the wonderful Dr Twicenightly character, and a perfectly gorgeous Nursie. Overall appearance most pleasing.

MAKEUP/HAIR: Attention to detail here with some good characters and face painting.

SOUND/LIGHTING: The lighting and sound team did a good job following an interesting plot. Sound and lighting effects well cued for not only the stage, but the side auditorium and the balcony.

THE PRODUCTION: Bev managed to create a true team spirit with her large cast. With some strong principal roles, great accents, plenty of ad-libbing, innuendo, light and dark, audience response, some good comedy and flow. Good participation for the children brought up onto the stage with birthdays to celebrate, all giving that family feel. Nick Leston flew in with cycle helmet and huge beak as a Stork carrying the baby princess, with the young Auroras growing into our Sleeping Beauty played by Fern Hockney serenaded by a dashing Prince Alice Richardson. Outstanding were the King, Mark Barron-Reid with I think a middle European accent and Italian accented Nursie from Grant Matthews. As Dr Aloysius Twicenightly, Robert Blundell was superbly costumed and made-up who portrayed the excellent head nodding Peter Sellers character with an excellent rendition of Goodness Gracious Me. Bonnie Sullivan played a mischievous fairy supported by a bevy of little fairies. A modern slant on the witch character Cruella was played by Emilee Ellis. Bob Barrow and David Richardson were quick talking Jesters assisted by the agile acrobat Minx the Monkey, Grace Richardson. Other cameos, court ladies, fairies and goblins all played their part. One particular mention must go to the creative idea and execution of the Passing of Time. Well done Tom Featherstone who grew older on each appearance and for his heralding at the Royal Palace.

After the finale the cast, production team and the unsung heroes were thanked and one in particular received an Oscar for three decades of backstage expertise and that was Stage Manager John Clark – no mean achievement, recognised by both the company and the audience.

Thank you for your kind invitation to an enjoyable Sunday matinee. A shorter version of this review will appear on the NODA website soon.

Anne Lawson
Regional Representative
NODA South East District 3