‘Sleeping Beauty’ (Edinburgh King’s Theatre) | Review By Lewis C. Baird

After a year off, the world feels whole again as Panto returns to the Edinburgh King’s Theatre in the form of ‘Sleeping Beauty’. This is the first pantomime since 2019 and also the first since the late King’s Theatre legend, Andy Gray, passed away. The story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ tells the tale of Princess Aurora (Sia Dauda), who has been cursed by her wicked Aunt Carabosse (Grant Stott), so that on the night of her 21st birthday she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. Can Aurora’s mother, Queen May (Allan Stewart) with the help of a good fairy (Nicola Meehan), plus Aurora’s friends Muddles (Jordan Young) & Narcissa (Clare Gray) lift the curse? 

Allan Stewart returns to the King’s Theatre in spectacular style as Queen May. Allan has been blessing the King’s Theatre for over twenty years now, and audiences continue to lap up his sharp comedic timing, warmth and showmanship. This year in particular we see Allan take on more skits than ever before and although at times it can be manic, he has the audience in the palm of his hand the full time. The miming sketch alone is enough to give you a stitch. Edinburgh audiences clearly love Allan Stewart’s fabulous dame and are so glad to see May return to the King’s stage in all her glory after a year off. 

Photo – Graham Clark

Grant Stott steps back onto the King’s stage as the villainous and unglamorous Carabosse, this is definitely one of the best villains that Grant has played, the flexibility he has to really stretch his comedy chops and be very cheeky is endless. A notable highlight is Grant’s opening musical number to Act Two, which is an affair filled with rip-roaring laughter, where we see Carabosse hilariously sing her own rendition of Lizzo’s ‘Good as Hell’. Grant’s devilish monologues are filled with golden satirical comedy which is delivered perfectly to the audience, continuously tickling them throughout this production. Grant Stott is back as the best Villain in all of Pantoland. 

Jordan Young is fantastic as Muddles in his second Edinburgh King’s Theatre Panto outing. Jordan brings a fresh style of comedy to the King’s, filled with energy, hilarity and also sometimes a little bit cheeky. Jordan laps up the miming sketch as well as the VERY difficult tongue twister, causing perhaps a few hilarious slip-ups. Jordan’s relationship with Allan and Grant is superb, it’s great to see the chemistry between the three unfold on stage, Jordan is by no means a replacement for Andy Gray and this is clear through the uniquely brilliant dynamic he brings to this Panto line-up. 

Photo – Graham Clark

Nicola Meehan is a fabulous addition to the King’s Panto with her delightful portrayal of The Good Fairy. Nicola’s voice is flawless, her performance of ‘Finding Wonderland’ which had been changed appropriately to ‘Finding Pantoland’, was very special indeed. Not only that but her bubbly energy engaged audiences of all ages, hopefully we will see Nicola return in Pantos to come. 

Clare Gray is back on the King’s stage as Narcissa, the evil daughter of Carabosse. Clare’s presence during this Panto is marvelous, truly embracing the villainous side of Narcissa, then as her journey goes on, we then see much more warmth from this supposed villain. A highlight of Clare’s performance is when she takes on the infamous ‘If I were not in Pantomime…’ song, she takes the tomfoolery in her stride. It is clear to see Clare is having a hoot on that stage, and audiences are loving seeing her follow in her father’s footsteps. 

Photo – Graham Clark

Sia Dauda is brilliant as the lovely Princess Aurora, although she does not grace the stage for long, due to her kipping for most of the show, what we do see from this young performer is nothing but energy and positivity. Sia’s portrayal of the outgoing and warm princess is a delight, especially for younger members of the audience.  Aurora’s relationship with Muddles is one that is a joy to watch thanks to Jordan and Sia’s great dynamic. 

The energetic and superb ensemble for this production is Joseph Gonzawa, Emily Graceling, Amy Kent, Ross Logan, Laurie McIntyre, Stefanie Meikle, Luke Perry & Ruth Warren.  

Ed Curtis’ direction of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ wrings every last bit of comedy from the terrific cast and also brings magic into what has been a dire two years since the last Panto at the King’s Theatre. This truly is a special production that brings back familiar guises and mixes them with some new treats in such a hilarious, energetic and visually stunning piece of theatre. Andy Pickering’s superb Musical Direction, integrated with Karen Martin’s Choreography, delivers fantastic sounding and looking musical interludes. Alan McHugh’s script for this year’s Panto tells the tale of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ perfectly while also lacing it with clever comedy routines, magical musical numbers and flying motorbikes. This is definitely one of the best Pantos that has been produced at the Edinburgh King’s Theatre, mainly due to how much they have been able to cram into just over two hours without it feeling rushed. All of this is set in Ian Westbrook’s fabulous-looking set design, with dazzling colourful lighting designed by Matt Clutterham and who can forget about the jaw-dropping visual effects from The Twins FX. 

On another note, the touching tribute to the late great Andy Gray was enough to bring a tear to a glass eye. Andy will be missed by all this Christmas, and Panto audiences will take a moment to remember all of the golden moments in the presence of that brilliant man on the King’s Theatre stage. 

‘Sleeping Beauty’ is a very special Pantomime production that celebrates the return of theatre while commemorating what we have lost. The cast, crew, and creatives are on top form to bring you what is undoubtedly the best Pantomime playing in Scotland this Christmas season. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Get your tickets for ‘Sleeping Beauty’ below:

https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/sleeping-beauty-2021

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