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A fairytale that had the whole audience dancing in their seats

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THE story may have been about Sleeping Beauty and told over two and a bit hours, but the Jersey Amateur Dramatic Club’s rendition of the age-old fairytale was a sublime, rather than soporific, show.

As you might expect with a panto, audience participation was the order of the evening – and the audience gathered at the Arts Centre for the opening night was certainly game for a laugh.

I must admit to having been a bit of a sceptic about pantomimes before reviewing this one. Until Wednesday evening, I had attended the grand total of one such show – Jack and the Bean Stalk in Torquay – when I was eight. That production was awful. This was far, far better.

The lead characters were all strong in their roles. Olga Pong, the bad fairy godmother (aka a witch) was played with great verve and energy by Samantha Gleave, while Paul Harris interacted brilliantly with the audience as Oddjob (Princess Beauty’s friend who is hopelessly stuck in the friend zone).

Queen Gigglebelly (Sally Fillieul) and her husband, King Rumbletum (Paul Hooper), were good fun, as was Ian Barette, whose role as Penelope Pinchme – the rambunctiously randy nurse – blended a Carry On film character with aspects of Barry Humphries’ alter ego, Dame Edna Everage.

Megan Barette shone as Princess Beauty, especially whenever there was a song to be sung thanks to her superb vocals, and Jenny Glennon, as Prince Handsome, got the balance right between swashbuckling and slapstick.

Every cast member gave an energetic account of themselves, including young Katie Webb in the guise of Unicorn – Princess Beauty’s cuddly toy that magically comes alive thanks to the fairy godmothers’ wands.

There were several surreal and cleverly choreographed routines, including a song in which a diminutive group of young dancers performed as jellyfish after the wicked witch, Olga Pong, cast a ‘slimy, wobbly wish’.

The lighting and sound effects were extremely atmospheric, especially when in Pong Castle, and we were even treated to the rather random appearance of a Gremlin (well, a big furry Mogwai) towards the end.

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It was a convincing Mogwai outfit, although one child near the front row too young to have watched the film Gremlins enthusiastically shouted out, ‘There’s a giant mouse behind you’, with a great deal of concern in their voice.

One of the best moments of the night was when the cast – along with volunteers from the audience – came together to sing The Proclaimers’ I Would Walk 500 Miles.

Everyone was on their feet again by the end, clapping along to a rousing rendition of Kool and the Gang’s hit song, Celebration (‘Let’s celebrate good times, come on’).

There were plenty of jokes with a Jersey twist throughout, including this reference to the Island’s own never ending story: Penelope Pinchme: ‘Where has Her Majesty got to?... We could have built a new hospital while we’ve been waiting.’

No one in the audience was clock-watching, though. Everyone was far too busy having fun.

David Edbrooke

By David Edbrooke
Journalist

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