Sleeping Beauty by the SDC is at Southport Little Theatre from 16th December 2022 to 2nd January 2023

Review: Sleeping Beauty by the SDC, at Southport Little Theatre 

Sleeping Beauty is an apt play to perform in Southport. Every Christmas the town really wakes up and comes alive with not one but three top class pantomimes. Many towns don’t even get to enjoy one! 

It’s a town where people really, really love their panto, Oh, yes they do. They need to be good. 

Southport Dramatic Club has a long and rich history of performing these fun festive shows. 

I saw my first one with my family when I was four years old. On Saturday night, I took my two daughters, aged 6 and 11, to see Sleeping Beauty. 

It was great to see such a packed audience for a sell-out matinee show. I imagine there were other parents or grandparents in the audience too with similar memories of seeing shows here as children and then bringing their young ones along to experience a similar magic. 

Southport Dramatic Club has been entertaining audiences for 102 years now, with the Little Theatre on  Hoghton Street being its home since 1937. This is a real Southport tradition, and one to be cherished. We can only enjoy it for as long as we support it. 

Sleeping Beauty by the SDC is at Southport Little Theatre from 16th December 2022 to 2nd January 2023

My daughters were impressed. My youngest daughter (she’s a tough crowd, and I should know, I’ve tried to tell her jokes) gave it a big 10/10. On our way out, she turned to one of the usherettes and said ‘Thank you, that show was amazing!’ Her favourite characters were Beauty and Polo the Penguin. My eldest daughter loved it too, with Brian as her favourite. As a show, it had something to delight people of all ages. 

It has been a tough three years for theatres trying to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and grow back audiences. It has been rough for theatre-lovers too and especially children, who have missed out so much on superb shows like this. 

It is brilliant to see them back enjoying what they have been missing so much. 

Sleeping Beauty by the SDC is at Southport Little Theatre from 16th December 2022 to 2nd January 2023

Sleeping Beauty is directed by Stephen Hughes-Alty, who has always had a passion for pantomime, performing in his first one 38 years ago. 

He has been involved in many since, both on-stage and also as a scriptwriter and as a director. 

This year marks a first for him as he is directing a panto written by very talented youth theatre member Guy Unsworth. 

The tale centres around Beauty, a feisty princess with a penchant for boxing. Together with her pet penguin Polo, a love-struck Prince Istuna (they get worse!), her surrogate mother Dame Maris Piper and her hapless brother Brian Piper, a chip off the old block, Beauty must try and thwart her evil aunt Carabosse’s wicked plans. 

Sleeping Beauty by the SDC is at Southport Little Theatre from 16th December 2022 to 2nd January 2023

Add to the mix a fairy who favours rap music over wands and you have a fabulously funny contemporary retelling of this romantic classic tale. 

It was a very interactive panto, with cast members frequently coming off stage and into the audience, with Dame Maris Piper striking up a romance with an audience member named Ricky! Brave man. 

Southport Little Theatre audiences will be well familiar with Rob McGregor (Dame Maris Piper) and hapless on-stage son Brian Piper (Peter Forshaw). 

They’re outstanding comedy performers, they have a real chemistry on-stage that produces brilliant results. They were fabulously funny and energetic. There were tonnes of jokes, aimed at my level (Dad jokes), and lots for children too. 

Sleeping Beauty by the SDC is at Southport Little Theatre from 16th December 2022 to 2nd January 2023

There was a really strong cast. Janine Burroughs had a real presence as the deliciously evil Carabosse, taunting the audience (and the characters) and eliciting lots of boos and hisses in true panto style. She played excellently against Sian Ross Woolley, the entertaining rapping Fairy Fizz, a fun idea on the traditional panto fairy. 

Emily Bloom (Beauty), battling to celebrate her 18th birthday and take control of the kingdom from the evil Carabosse, gave a very strong performance alongside Harry Corcoran (Prince Istuna), whose true love (warning, plot spoiler) brought her back from the dead after being tricked and cursed by Carabosse. 

Lucas Goodman (Polo the Penguin) was timely as Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov’s masterly novel Death And The Penguin has shown us that (spoiler alert two) every good plot must have a good penguin (or two). 

Full marks to all the dancers and ensemble, who were brilliant, bringing a real energy to the scenes: Tabitha Armstrong, Gracie Barfield, Esme Barron, Helena Fletcher-Hill, Chloe Morris, Maddison Rose, Abbie Strefford, Katie Allen, Emilie Alty, Charlotte Gerring, Laura-Jane Palmer-Farrar and Nathan Power. 

Sleeping Beauty by the SDC is at Southport Little Theatre from 16th December 2022 to 2nd January 2023

Although there are contemporary touches, this still has all the hallmarks of a traditional Christmas SDC panto, all done with panache. 

The scene where Brian and his mother were in jail being stalked by ghosts thrilled the audience – you can’t beat a good ‘he’s behind you!’ scene. 

The madcap scene inside the cottage kitchen was brilliant, with eggs, flour, milk and water flying everywhere! 

There is lots of famous panto slapstickery to enjoy. 

The audience definitely got their money’s worth – at two and a half hours long and with 13 scenes (plus 20 minute interval) it was a great form of escaping the outside world (no bad thing). 

Sleeping Beauty by the SDC is at Southport Little Theatre from 16th December 2022 to 2nd January 2023

Sleeping Beauty by the SDC is at Southport Little Theatre from 16th December 2022 to 2nd January 2023

As ever, this panto couldn’t happen without a hugely talented backstage team, from the brilliant band (who had their own lines), to stage manager, lighting, sound, wardrobe, stage crew, set design and many more. The unsung heroes of every show. 

The annual pantomime is a great way of enticing people into the theatre, and encouraging them to see more. The SDC has more coming up this year including Boadicea of Britannia Street (January), Liver Birds (February), Wolves of Willoughby Chase (March) and more. 

Southport’s local theatre is not just for Christmas. 

 

  • Sleeping Beauty by Southport Dramatic Club at the Little Theatre, Hoghton Street, Southport, opened on 16th December and runs until 2nd January, please book tickets via the little theatre southport website and check for performance times as they vary. There will be two performances with BSL translation on Tuesday 27th December. People can also visit the box office in person / or call 01704 530521 11am-1pm and from 6pm to curtain up on show nights. 

 

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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