Sleeping Beauty, The Pavilion, Bournemouth

Sleeping Beauty - the cast

Sleeping Beauty - the cast

First published in Stage Reviews Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

FROM the heat of the Australian jungle to the chill of the south coast.

That’s the journey former Dr Who Colin Baker has made in the past few weeks.

From risking losing his appetite in the ‘I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here’ bushtucker trials, Baker is now playing a major role as Nanny Nelly in Sleeping Beauty at the Pavilion in Bournemouth.

Every panto needs a dame, and Baker pulls off his cross-dressing superbly with a great array of facial expressions.

Pantomines should be for all the family, not just for the kids, and Sleeping Beauty more than fits the bill.

Superbly written by CBeebies star Chris Jarvis, a Bournemouth resident, the script contains as many gags for adults as for the younger members of the audience.

Jarvis throws in more than a sprinkling of local references, from AFC Bournemouth, the nowdefunct Imax Theatre and even a mention of ‘chavs walking down Poole High Street.’ As with all good pantos, there are numerous star performers during the almost two-hour long performance.

Su Pollard – to those of us who grew up in the 1980s, forever associated with large glasses and legendary performances in sitcom Hi Di Hi – is a scream as the wicked fairy, through to Baker and Jarvis as well as Asa Elliott, more well known for his role in TV show Benidorm but who on this occasion is the dashing prince rushing to Princess Rose’s rescue.

Like Jarvis, local radio presenter Kate Weston is back again from the Pavilion’s 2011 panto Jack and the Beanstalk as the Good Fairy.

There is never a dull moment throughout, with a rib-tickling script, great costumes, scenery and special effects, all backed up with superb choreography.

My personal highlights were the scene when the Good Fairy brings the Princess’ toys to life, and a hilarious mirror routine involving Baker and Jarvis, the latter always raising a laugh in his role as Happy Harry – even when complete with pumpaction water pistols.

Around 40,000 people are expected to pour through the Pavilion doors over the next few weeks for their dose of panto action.

Make sure you are among that number, and there’s no way you’ll doze off during Sleeping Beauty – not when Su Pollard is talking anyway!

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