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Sleeping Beauty cast out and about as new panto era dawns at Rhodes




Final touches are being made as a new panto era dawns at Rhodes Arts Complex on Thursday (Dec 5) when the curtain goes up on Sleeping Beauty.

And the cast have been giving the community an alarm call with a series of costumed public appearances, including Sawbridgeworth's Christmas lights switch-on on Saturday, a spot of shopping in Sainsbury's in Jackson Square and making a promotional house-selling video in Stansted for panto sponsor Mullucks.

The first of a total of 53 performances – 41 public and 12 for schools (with limited public seats available) – takes place tonight (Wed) at 7pm. The first fully public show is on Thursday at 7pm.

Nanny Nora (James Lavender) on a video shoot on behalf of Sleeping Beauty sponsor Mullucks at a property in Stansted (23147445)
Nanny Nora (James Lavender) on a video shoot on behalf of Sleeping Beauty sponsor Mullucks at a property in Stansted (23147445)

If the run-through of the show I saw on Saturday afternoon is a measure, audiences between now and January 5, when the month-long run ends, are in for a treat – as well as a few surprises.

Although it was done without costumes and with no stage lighting, my eyes were fixed on the performers. I watched smiling throughout, courtesy of the comedy content and the talented actors' characterisation and timing, enhanced by the pace of the show, a catchy collection of chart hits and musical numbers, and impressive dance routines.

Sleeping Beauty represents Rhodes' first panto co-production, with Wisecracker Entertainment.

The Sleeping Beauty cast appeared at the switch-on of Sawbridgeworth's Christmas lights on Saturday. Picture: Melissa Page
The Sleeping Beauty cast appeared at the switch-on of Sawbridgeworth's Christmas lights on Saturday. Picture: Melissa Page

The classic fairy tale about a princess cursed to sleep for a hundred years by an evil fairy, and the handsome prince who wakes her with true love's kiss, has been given a few twists and brought bang up to date by writer and director Ian McFarlane.

Ian has worked on some of the biggest pantos in London and around the UK, directing stars such as soap actress and Loose Women panellist Sherrie Hewson, TV astrologer Russell Grant and Happy Days' Henry 'The Fonz' Winkler.

Richard Jones choreographs the show direct from opening Mary Poppins in the West End for Cameron Mackintosh and taking time away from the international tour of Miss Saigon.

The professional cast of Hannah Louise Howell (Princess Bea), Aaron Kavanagh (Prince Felix), Liam Huband (Jasper the Jester), James Lavender (Nanny Nora), Joel Macey (Prince Adolpho) and Jodie Micciche (Fairy Light and Fairy Midnight) join hot on the heels of various UK tours and London shows. They are joined by 21 local young performers in three dance teams.

The 21 dance team members pictured with Sleeping Beauty's writer and director Ian McFarlane and producer Oliver Seadon (23147225)
The 21 dance team members pictured with Sleeping Beauty's writer and director Ian McFarlane and producer Oliver Seadon (23147225)

It is produced by Oliver Seadon, who has worked on hit family shows including Potted Potter plus CBeebies favourites In the Night Garden Live and Bing Live.

Show times & ticket prices

Sleeping Beauty runs for 41 performances from Thursday December 5 to Sunday January 5:

Thu 5 – 7pm

Sat 7 – 11am, 3pm, 7pm

Sun 8, Sat 14 & Sun 15 – 1.30pm, 5pm

Sat 21 – 11am, 3pm, 7pm

Sun 22 & Mon 23 – 1.30pm, 5pm

Tue 24 (Christmas Eve) – 11am, 3pm

Thu 26 (Boxing Day) – 1.30pm, 5pm

Fri 27 & Sat 28 – 10am, 1.30pm, 5pm

Sun 29 & Mon 30 – 1.30pm, 5pm

Tue 31 (New Year's Eve) – 11am, 3pm

Wed 1 (New Year's Day), Fri 3, Sat 4 & Sun 5 – 1.30pm, 5pm.

Ticket prices range from £20 to £27 for standard, £18-£24 for concessions (over 60 and under 16) and £70-£89 for a family of two adults and two children or one adult and three children.

You can book online at www.rhodesartscomplex.co.uk, by calling the box office on 01279 701200 or in person at Rhodes Arts Complex in South Road.


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