Sleeping Beauty – The Panto

Written on December 1st, 2019

A Hilarious, Modern Adaptation

Sleeping Beauty – The Panto, currently at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, is as much for the adults as for the children.  In true panto style, the audience becomes part of the performance.

The wonderful thing about fairy tales is that they are continually adapted to the times.  Sleeping Beauty has been traced back to the fourteenth century and has undergone numerous changes over the years to keep it fresh and relevant.  One criticism of past versions has been the passivity of the princess.  This is not an issue in this fully modern adaptation.  The use of current and local references such as a Waterloo Public Library card, the LRT, and the town of Elmira, adds to the fun.  Filled with zingers, over-the-top costumes, glittering lights and modern music, the audience is dealt surprise after surprise, culminating in a satisfying resolution.  

King Hector and Queen Hecuba are welcoming the arrival of their daughter Aurora with a name day celebration.  When the Fairy Carabossy feels snubbed, she puts a spell on the baby, which will cause the princess to prick her finger and die on her seventeenth name day.  The good Fairy Bountiful steps in and softens the spell from death to a thousand years’ sleep.  Unable to nurse the baby, the Queen enlists the help of the doddering Royal Nurse, who is also asked to change the baby. Aurora grows up to be spoiled and tended to by Rosabella, a sweet and lovely companion.  When Prince William and Harry arrive at the castle, the princess falls for the younger prince, and her betrothed William becomes enchanted with Rosabella.  Inevitably, Aurora pricks her finger and the royal household falls into a slumber, but not before consent is given for true love’s kiss!  After a thousand years, two descendants of William and Harry break through the wall (The best wall!), wake the ladies with chaste kisses and bring the household back to life.  The King declares that Aurora must marry Ben, who resembles Prince William, despite his attraction to Rosabella.  The good Fairy Bountiful again steps in to resolve the dilemma, and a happy ending is had by all! 

Justin Bott does an outstanding job as the Fairy Carabossy.  The audience loves to boo her, which she thrives on and encourages.  Justin has a wonderful singing voice and he’s performed at Drayton in AnnieJack and the Bean Stock, and Rocky.  Jenni Burke, another outstanding singer, plays the good Fairy Bountiful.  She is well known at Drayton in such shows as Mamma MiaSnow WhiteLes Miserables and The Music Man.

Aaron Walpole is perfectly cast as King Hector.  Always a powerful singer, he has played in numerous Drayton shows such as You’ll Get Used to It: The War ShowRocky, and Man of La Mancha.  Billy Lake plays the colourful and ultra-fashionable Queen Hecuba.  With a rich deep voice, Billy performs an impressive Shania Twain number, among other modern hits.  He has played Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast and Jimmy Smith in Thoroughly Modern Millie, as well as other roles at Drayton.

Erica Peck, playing the spoiled Aurora, has a wonderful, strong singing voice and is perfect as the modern version of a princess.  She has played Rizzo in Grease and Penny in Hairspray at Drayton.  Emma Rudy is Rosabella, a lovely peasant girl with long golden locks.  This is her debut at Drayton Entertainment.  She has had starring roles as Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables and Belle in Beauty and the Beast at other venues.

The talented Alex Kelly plays the roles of the handsome Prince William and Ben, and even has the brief opportunity to recreate his wonderful Drayton role as Rocky Balboa!  Equally talented Kale Penny is playboy Prince Harry and Jerry, who shows us a brief glimpse of his previous role in Newsies.

Andrew Scanlon is hilarious as the Royal Nurse.  He has performed with Drayton Entertainment in roles too numerous to mention.  The ensemble adds much energy and enthusiasm, as does the children’s chorus.  A second children’s chorus plays on alternating nights.

David Connolly is credited with great creativity in bringing Caroline Smith’s clever writing to the stage. 

Packed with fun and laughter, this show is selling quickly. Call now if you’re planning to bring the kids and grandkids.

Sleeping Beauty – The Panto continues until December 29 at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, Waterloo.  Tickets available at Toll Free 1-855-372-9866 or check http://www.draytonentertainment.com for availability.

PhotoThe Company of  Sleeping Beauty – The Panto, Drayton Entertainment 2019. Photo by Hilary Gauld Camilleri.

Sleeping Beauty – The Panto 
Written by Caroline Smith
Directed and Choreographed by David Connolly
Music Direction by Nico Rhodes
Performed by Justin Bott, Jenni Burke, Alex Kelly, Billy Lake, Erica Peck, Kale Penny, Emma Rudy, Andrew Scanlon, Aaron Walpole, George Absi, Garett Hill, Shelley Kenney, Seanna Knudsen, Erik Markewich, Christine Watson
Set Design by Jean Claude Olivier
Costume Design by Rachel Berchtold
Lighting Design by Kevin Fraser
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, Waterloo
November 27 to December 29, 2019
Reviewed by Vicki Stokes

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