When you’re struggling to get into the festive spirit, nothing can help more than an evening at the panto.
It’s something us Brit’s cherish dearly, and something that the Americans certainly don’t, and will probably never understand. But to be honest, nothing gets me in the festive mood more than an evening filled with slap-stick humour, family fun and more sparkles that you’ll see on Strictly – and that’s saying something.
So when I found myself feeling a little ‘Grinch’ like on a rather cold Tuesday evening, I needed something to perk me up a little.
Enter Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and its 2018 panto, Sleeping Beauty.
Once again, Qdos Entertainment has worked its magic in finding the perfect balance of keeping both the adults and little ones happy through a script that’s both witty, charming and packed with entertainment. They’ve even thrown in some Black Country babs and gags to give the show its very own unique approach.
It’s crammed with enthusiasm from the moment the curtain rises, and from then on, the Grand’s panto is a sheer joy to watch from beginning to end.
Everyone knows the story of Sleeping Beauty, but Qdos has gone above and beyond all expectations to create a storyline with a slight difference that still holds the nostalgia of the Disney classic.
There are dancing Wolves players, plenty of shade thrown at local areas and some seriously good songs – including two hits from The Greatest Showman.
Yet the storytelling lies within the hands of the cast, and let me tell you, this cast is a strong one.
Richard Cadell absolutely stole the show for me as Muddles. Audience interaction in a panto is so key, it’s something that can make or break the show, but Cadell’s performance is a panto highlight that will be a solid favourite of mine for years to come.
Alongside his jaw-dropping magic tricks that will leave you scratching your head for hours on end, Cardell was perfectly paired with the iconic children’s character, Sooty, who was probably more of a delight for parents and grandparents than children. There are even appearances from some of his pals and a performance from Sweep that was the highlight of the show for me.
Star of Strictly Come Dancing Debbie McGee was a delight as Fairy Crystal (Fairy Godmother). Displaying her stunning dance moves with her delicate singing voice, she’s everything you could possibly want from a Fairy Godmother.
Local bab Doreen Tiptoon certainly didn’t disappoint either. Taking on the role of a local nurse, it didn’t take much for her to have the audience in stitches. Even her mobile phone warning at the very beginning had the audience chuckling away. Bethan-Wyn Davies also made the perfect Princess Beauty, delivering a warm performance that captured the hearts of the audience.
And how could I forget Ian Adams, who returned to the Grand for his third consecutive year as Queen Wilhelmina. No panto is complete without a dame, and Adams is one of the finest around.
A special mention should also go to Oliver Ormson, who stepped into the shoes of Prince Harry with ease. Having last seen Ormson perform in The Addams Family at Birmingham Hippodrome only last year, I wondered how he would adapt his voice to the comedic demands of panto, but any niggle of doubt that I had was washed away with his powerful solos and sensational vocal range as he took on The Greatest Showman’s Rewrite The Stars.
I can’t fault the Grand’s panto. It’s perfectly balanced, hilariously funny and an absolute joy to watch. Qdos once again reign champions of the pantomime world, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down as it continues to raise the bar of its shows with each and every year that passes.
A visual feast and a show not to be missed, make sure you grab some tickets and enjoy a festive day out for all the family.
Disclaimer: I was gifted these tickets by Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. All views of this performance are my own unless stated otherwise.