The witch is back… And this time she means (show) business!
Back for its 14th year, the Exeter Corn Exchange Christmas panto returns hot on the heels of last year’s record-breaking performance of Cinderella. Once again bringing together familiar family favourites and West End stars, Sleeping Beauty delivers everything you’re looking for in a Christmas panto - incredible cast, toe-tapping songs, colourful costumes, stunning sets, and some good old-fashioned slapstick.
Set in the fairytale Queendom of Fantasia, Sleeping Beauty retells the tale of Aurora (or Rory as she prefers), trying to make it to her 18th birthday without a prick spoiling it for everyone. Inevitably, one does, presented by the wicked witch Carabosse, played by a show-stealing Matt Finegan; back by popular demand following his equally enchanting performances in Aladdin, Snow White, and The Wizard of Oz. Imagine Maleficent played by Joan Collins and you’re halfway there!
Fortunately, the young princess (rising star, Katie Hallett) has some solid support to help her triumph over evil - mainly via the medium of song, as well as a little audience participation for good measure. The support cast includes Keeley Cooper as the flatulent Fairy Fluff, Will Trafford as the aptly named Buzzy, Archie Benham as the hapless Prince Clooney, and James Trafford as the pun-tastic, Wizard Porco. Further comedy antics are provided by Dotty (Katie Jones) who lives up to her name, playing a character reminiscent of Nanny in the classic 80’s cartoon, Count Duckula. The choreography and backing vocals from the younger cast members from Kickline, are also worthy of note.
With a strong repertoire of songs (including Cher, Kylie, and Whitney), and even stronger vocal performances - particularly those of Rachel Modest from The Voice as Queen Clarabelle - poor old Carabosse doesn’t stand a chance… although she puts up a good fight!
From innuendo to political satire, Sleeping Beauty delivers a pitch perfect performance that will leave you literally dancing in the aisles! With mirth, magic, and even a not-so-little dragon, Disney could learn a thing or two about how to retell a classic tale in the 21st century!
Sleeping Beauty runs at the Exeter Corn Exchange until Monday, January 1st, 2024.