REVIEW: Sleeping Beauty Charter Theatre, Preston

Photo Neil Cross'Preston Charter Theatre's panto - Sleeping Beauty'Archie Kelly

Photo Neil Cross'Preston Charter Theatre's panto - Sleeping Beauty'Archie Kelly

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An array of Fylde coast talent is ensuring there’s nothing snooze inducing about Preston’s new Christmas panto.

In the key roles, Sleeping Beauty at the Charter Theatre stars Coronation Street actress Jacqueline Leonard, from Poulton, Cleveleys-born CBBC and Newsround presenter Hayley Hassall, and Thornton performer Charlotte Dalton in the most important roles.

And what an energy-filled, well delivered dose of magic this production is - the best Christmas panto at the Charter Theatre for years.

Modern songs and upbeat and well-executed dance routines worked well with stunning special effects, including a massive dragon’s head rising menacingly out over the audience - to create something appealing to all ages.

Key to the success is St Annes comedian Phil Walker who has not only written and is directing the show but is also appearing as comic lead and hero Silly Billy.

His quick wit and gags kept the theatre in stitches.

Phoenix Night’s Archie Kelly as the King ensured the laughs kept coming.

Charlotte Dalton as Princess Aurora and Ian Curran as the dashing Prince made the perfect couple and created a love story that must have a highlight for many younger viewers.

The stand-out performance was Jacqueline Leonard’s Maleficent - who relished the energetic boos and hisses she generated when she strode arrogantly on to the stage.

Hayley Hassall provided the perfect contrast with the perky and cheerful Good Fairy.

Sleeping Beauty ticked all the boxes needed for successful pantomime - oh yes it did - particularly the audience participation. From the delight of the audience evident on opening night the Charter Theatre has a little piece of magic on its hands.

JAMES READER