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Sleeping Beauty - The Gala Theatre, Durham

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 17th Dec 2012 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge


Sleeping Beauty - The Gala Theatre, Durham

As the programme points out, the Gala pantomime has firmly established itself as “a cultural highlight in County Durham’s festive calendar”. This season sees Simon Stallworthy present his fifth annual production which is a charming version of Sleeping Beauty.

As usual, it is a pantomime full of fun and familiar faces. Paul Hartley, as Silly Billy, returns for the tenth consecutive year and he is a firm favourite with the kids, whilst Neil Armstrong is, once again, resident baddie as the evil wizard, Scorchard. However, there are some new faces within the cast, too. Steve Fortune dons the flamboyant frocks and treats the audience to the truly delightful Dame Miriam, Samantha Phyllis Morris strikes the right balance of sweetness and feistiness as Fairy Melusine and David Redgrave is a bumbling but kindly King Tickle.

Of course, at the heart of every fairytale is a royal romance and the beautiful Princess Aurora, played with sincerity by Christina Cuttell, and the slightly self-important Prince Roger (Ian Curran) meet by pure chance and fall in love. However, the sentimentality is never over-played.

The essence of true panto is woven throughout the entire show, which sticks closely to the original concept: plenty of audience interaction encouraging the kids to get involved, references to local places and current events, the obligatory slosh scene, and of course the mandatory sing song towards the end and prior to the inevitable wedding. All tried and tested stuff – it’s what the audience demand and is certainly what is delivered.

Add in a clapped-out car, providing much hilarity, some super special effects, beautiful costumes and scenery, some near-the-knuckle double-entendres, and a bit of corpsing here and there, and you have a seasonal spectacular which ticks all the right boxes.

With demand high and tickets selling fast, a number of performances are already sold out – and that is probably the most resounding endorsement of all.

Sleeping Beauty is at the Gala Theatre, Durham, until Saturday January 5, 2013. Tickets are priced from £6.50 to £15.50, with concessions available. To book call 0191 332 4041 or log on to






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