It’s back! After a year off due to, well, you know what, Eastbourne’s highly regard and much missed Christmas pantomime returns for another season, this time with the timeless story of Sleeping Beauty.
Once again coming from director Chris Jordan (whose been responsible for many of Eastbourne’s previous and best pantos) , Sleeping Beauty tells the story of a princess doomed with a curse to sleep a hundred years (and throws in a healthy dose of, urm, time travel?) and stars the very talented and charming pairing of Becky Hoyle and Ashley Emerson as Sleeping beauty and her prince Valiant. So worth the wait? “Oh yes it was”. sorry couldn’t resist. In fact From the moment the fairy godmother steps onto the stage you know you are back in safe hands in a show that will delight people of all ages!
And it’s not just the panto that’s returning… this year also bids a much welcome welcome return of Eastbourne Panto stalwarts Martyn Knight and Tucker, taking their usual roles of pantomime dame and Panto host/resident joker. It wouldn’t be an Eastbourne pantomime without their trademark high kinks, songs, bad jokes , audience flirting and slapstick, thankfully all present, correct and (it goes without saying) highly enjoyable. I cant imagine what an Eastbourne Panto without these two would be like as they have become almost as iconic as the show itself.
Beyond this if you’ve ever been to an Eastbourne pantomime before you will know by now what to expect…a packed 2 1/2 hour’s that is full songs both old and new, a cast of fun characters, a fair amount of “Its behind you moments”, good and evil fairies and a few special surprises which I won’t spoil here. You will just have to go and watch it yourself!
Of what I Can say highlights for me included the music juke box scene (which I can see getting very out of control as the shows run evolves), the annual Tucker and Martyn mess about scene (this year taking a baking flavour), a very inventive and funny dream sequence and, on a more serious note, a stirring rendition of a million dreams from The Greatest Showman by Beauty and her Prince.
Best off was that the packed audience were fully onboard for the ride from the start – joining in with the call outs, singing along to the songs and dancing for the final number. Oh and of course (and most importantly) booing the evil fairy. In fact special mention has to go to Carli Norris who plays the wicked Carabosse – she’s brilliant and plays along perfectly with both the cast and the audience.
A year away and a world of outside challenges hasn’t dented the fun, excitement and pure joy that the Sleeping Beauty brings. In fact if anything it’s made the experience even more special. One to cherish and hold dear. In short: Sleeping Beauty is a show that shouldn’t be missed – a fun, highly enjoyable and laugh out loud slice of escapism at a time where we need to smile more than ever.
The final word needs to go to my daughter who watched the show with me… “That was so funny… just brilliant… a 9/10 !”. Indeed.
Starring: Karen Mann, Nicolas Pound, Tucker, Martyn Knight, Carli Norris, Ashley Emerson, Becky Hoyle. Written & Directed by Chris Jordan.
Sleeping Beauty is currently performing at TheDevonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne until 9th January 2021.