Review: ‘Sleeping Beauty’, Colne Muni

The panto cast at The Muni in Colne.
The panto cast at The Muni in Colne.

The story of Sleeping Beauty is being told on the local stage this week but there is certainly no slumbering at Colne Muni.

Just when you thought the party season was over, the annual New Year panto in Pendle sprung into action to keep the festivities flowing and the audience wide awake on Saturday night.

Keith De'Winter as a Nurse in the Muni Panto

Keith De'Winter as a Nurse in the Muni Panto

And it was abuzz with laughs galore, goodies and baddies, a delicious dame (who actually COULD do with a little beauty sleep) and all just a little bit “Frozen” themed.

Writer and producer George Critchley’s sprinkling of scenes, costumes and jokes from the phenomena that is the “Frozen” blockbuster film, was a real audience pleaser.

With a hugely entertaining opening night show under their belt, the young cast of “Sleeping Beauty” are around to sprinkle their stardust for another week, with both daytime and evening shows right up to January 18th.

Being in the opening night audience for my first pantomime of the season I was impressed with the modern twist to this tale. “Sleeping Beauty” is not the best known panto story, so gives writers and producers quite a bit of leeway to embellish it as they wish.

And this version by PMA Productions does just that as it tells the story of Princess Aurora who is bewitched by an evil sorceress who makes her prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep for 100 years, until she is awakened by a kiss from a handsome prince.

It has its own take on the traditional story, but loses none of the merriment in the telling of it.

In fact it is all laugh out loud hilarity as the cast clown around, obviously enjoying every minute of the tomfoolery they bring to the stage.

And leading the nonsense are a trio of funsters - Keith De Winter as panto dame Nurse Nanny Nightingale, Karl Greenwood as Simple Simon and ex-Hollyoaks actor Darren John Langford as Lord Chamberpot.

What a class act they are. Keith has a decade of experience as the dame and says he’s donned more wigs than he’s had hot dinners and worn more tights than you can shake a stick at. And it shows as he has a special rapport with his fellow actors and the ability to work the audience wonderfully, his one-liners and innuendo a real treat. The jokes are aimed more at the adults in the audience, which is fine as the children are just enthralled by his antics.

Partner him with Darren Langford’s brilliant interpretation of Lord Chamberpot, all dozy slow motion and deadpan camp, and the pure fun and clowning around of Karl Greenwood’s zany Simple Simon, and you have a great comedy connection. It’s panto, so you’ve seen most of the gags before, but it doesn’t make them any less funny. The 12 days of Christmas madcap scene, was actually funnier this time around.

Added to the mix are a bevy of glamorous girls with Nikki Horsburgh playing Princess Aurora, Shorelle Hepkin as the good Fairy Liquid, her two fairy helpers Ashleigh Graham and Anna Knowles, and the evil fairy Carabosse the Maleficent played by Jenny Layton. They are all professional actors, singers and dancers and it shows as the musical numbers are excellent, my favourite being the “Timber” number. Last but not least is Samuel Pope as the “posh” Prince Valentine who poses as a woodcutter in his search for true love - hence the Timber song in case you were wondering.

Pupils from Colne’s East Lancashire School of Dance were excellent as the backing dancers and chorus. For the remaining performances George Critchley himself will play the part of Simple Simon.

It was great to start the New Year with a visit to the panto and there are still tickets for all performances, from the Box Office on 01282 661234, or online at www.themuni.co.uk