Writer and Director: Paul Hendy
It’s panto season! Oh yes, it is! This legendary Lyceum Theatre pantomime is back and this year’s Sheffield Theatres and Evolution Pantomimes co-production is Sleeping Beauty. This is a great production with a talented cast, colourful costumes and sets, fun musical numbers and plenty of laughs for people of all ages.
Paul Hendy’s script is as strong as ever. There are some fantastic new jokes, without too much time dwelling on the events of the last two years. The routine around ageing is absolutely hilarious and executed to perfection. This pantomime provides escapism which is what is much needed at the moment, and all of the traditional routines are here, although some of the reimagined ones don’t land quite as well.
Terry Parsons’ set is traditional and colourful. There isn’t too much spectacle for the sake of spectacle and that is one of the great strengths of the Lyceum pantomime. The costumes by Terry Parsons and Helga Wood are great – Beauty’s costumes are stunning. Jack Weir’s lighting design is particularly impressive and enhances the action very well. James Harrison returns as the musical director and he really does deliver something special. He is incredibly musically talented, supported by an equally talented band, which adds a huge amount of energy to the show. Harrison is included a little bit more in the action this year and he really is a joy to watch.
The cast, although not as packed with celebrity names this year, is very strong. Janine Duvitski of Benidorm fame headlines the show as Fairy Moonbeam. She has the audience in the palm of her hand from the moment she first appears and strikes a perfect balance between magical and a little ditzy. Lucas Rush plays Carabosse, returning to Sheffield after 2020’s online pantomime, and they are the perfect panto villain. Their voice is powerful and they get to showcase the rock side to their voice, as well as the classic musical theatre side. Having a gender fluid villain brings pantomime right into the present day and it works very well.
Hannah Everest plays the title role opposite Dominic Sibanda as the Prince. Both are excellent and Have superb chemistry. Everest’s vocals are incredible and blow the roof off. Sibanda’s equally strong vocally and has a gorgeous richness to his voice. Everest doesn’t feel like she’s missing from the show for too long, making full use of her stage time, whilst Sibanda gets lots to do and he really does well as part of the leading comedic trio.
Ben Thornton returns to Sheffield after playing Dandini in 2019’s Cinderella and this year, he plays Jangles. He is a strong panto comic and despite having only appeared in Sheffield once, the audience clearly loves him. He is truly superb opposite Sheffield legend Damian Williams as Nurse Nellie and is on top form bringing many laughs with his facial expressions and his perfect comic timing.
Good fun for audiences of all ages, this is traditional with a few modern twists, a strong cast and a fantastic script. Sheffield – panto is well and truly back!
Runs until 3rd January 2022.