Annual adventure into panto for Fairlight’s talented team

Review: Fairlight Pantomime Group: ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Fairlight Village Hall, January 23 – 25.

Another Opening of Another Show – in Fairlight’s case, their 35th annual presentation.

Director Jennifer Annetts had pulled together the various talents of her wide age-ranged cast of 21, in a production with many high spots and only a few low ones.

The staging was effective (Roger Bird and Terry Noakes designed this), and Liz Gilbert’s Costume Plot was as eye-catchingly impressive as it always is.

Lighting, by John Dyer, enhanced the action, with much flashing, while Keith Miller’s music and sound pressed all the right buttons, and added to the fun.

Tom Miller was back as Dame, for which we should be grateful, in a likeable, expressive and amusing showing, while Ben Burford was full of energy in the ‘Buttons’ character of Bimbo, as indeed was the Carabosse, the Black Fairy, of Penny Kenward, as boo-able a villainess as you could wish for.

She certainly got her share, and gave it back. Chris Goring, as Prince Rupert, and Lydia Gilbert, as Princess Aurora, were a well-matched couple, in a script that introduced the Prince from the start, and told the back story through flashbacks, rather than having to wait 100 years for the Prince to come.

Peter Spencer’s King had shades of Prince Charles and John Cleese, and Linda Savarese was his devoted Queen. Bimbo’s girlfriend, Leonora, was neatly played by Kate Bruce, a difficult role as she was not on speaking terms with him.

Steve Hill’s doddery Chamberlain was a good source of fun, and Ollie Spencer brought the Prince’s valet, Jules, to life. Sam Burford’s Innkeeper was dependably sound. Emily White, Esmee Wilson, Rebecca Tierney and Hollie Veness, as the Fairies Silver, Gold, Rainbow and Snow respectively, did an excellent job between them, as did Matthew Barry’s Court Musician and Richard Boulter-Wilson’s Footman. The youngsters Christopher Boulter-Wilson, Fenella Owst, Chloe Smith, Sienna and Summer Spice completed the cast in fine style.

The singing went down a treat, with some well-chosen numbers from the Dame, the Dame and the Chamberlain, the Prince and Princess, and Bimbo and Floriana, good at working their audience.

So, too, did the set-piece dances, designed by Charlotte Eastes, Libby Annetts and the Company.

It is easy to understand how and why this annual adventure in Fairlight has become, and remains, so popular. If future productions are to keep up their high standards, they must keep all the many bits that are palpable hits while losing those parts that let the show down. The cast will know what they have to do. Keith Pollard