The Riverfront Theatre Newport
in association with The Hiss and Boo Company
Imagine a huge many tiered sponge
cake decorated with pink icing, covered with multi-coloured Smarties and
bursting with whipped cream filling, then you will get some idea of the
tremendous delight provided for children from three to three hundred and three
by this year’s Riverfront pantomime, the eternal romantic fairy story of
Sleeping Beauty. And it is a real story, captivatingly told by this excellent
cast of very fine actors.
The lively band under the direction of Julian Tucker gets us all off to a
sprightly start and we are soon greeted by the scrumptious Fairy Blodwen in
her glittering gown. Gillian Elisa’s fairy is like some warm hearted head
mistress; she soon has us all comfortably under the control of her magic wand
and with her clear and powerful singing voice, a piece of magic on its own,
she welcomes us to the Market Place in Newportalot. But our joy is soon burst
apart by the appearance from the other side of the stage of The Riverfront’s,
now regular, baddie, the every so very nasty, well not quite so nasty Brian
Hibbard who soon has the whole audience booing his nasty ways off the stage
but we know he’ll be back .
We quietly join King Dafydd the Good and Queen Myfanwy for the christening of
their new-born daughter The Princess Aurora, all does not go well; the evil
Morgan the Bad ( Hibbard) condemns the new born babe to an awful fate but the
good fairy intervenes and we’re off on the journey of this famous tale. This
is a cast of real actor/singers who can become very believable and moving when
the story requires it. There are many moments of simple beauty and delightful
singing as things move on.
The enchanting blue eyed blond Jacqueline Kent looks the ideal princess and
brings a strong youthful vitality to her singing with her tall dark and
handsome, every inch, the desirable beau Prince Cedric Lostalot. Michael
Luxton introduces him to us with a rock and roll number reminiscent of quite a
different Prince and not to be outdone Hibbard enchants the older females in
the audience with his hip swinging Elvis number. He is backed by his troupe of
crows led by the acrobatic Francois Pandolfo and the full of fun children from
nearby Newport schools.
No pantomime is complete with out its Dame and knockabout slap stick Comedy.
Phylip Harries brings to the role of Nanny Thoroughgood some extraordinary
physical shapes and even more extraordinary, wild and colourful costumes. The
rapport his builds with his audience, both young and old is terrific. Like all
this cast it is the warmth and joy of every moment on the stage that he
conveys that gives this shows its superb Riverfront quality. His excellent,
sometime sullen, young teenager side-kick Muddles, played by Andrew Beavis,
another fine singer, also has all the kids in the palm of his hand raising,
along with all the other exciting characters on stage, a well deserved
Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan
Riverfront premiered its sparkling 2008/9 pantomime Sleeping Beauty last week,
so don’t delay in booking your tickets for this magical feast of family
With stunning sets, fabulous costumes, a host of comedy characters played by
wonderful actors (Brian Hibbard, Gillian Elisa and Phylip Harries) and a fun
packed script with toe tapping tunes, you are promised delightful family
With lots of lively local lads and lasses as well: what more could you ask
Review by: South Wales Argus
This Princess Briar Rose is no shrinking violet, but a girl of real spirit.
Roused from her century of sleep by a chaste kiss from her handsome Prince,
she wrenches the sword Excalibur from the stone and fearlessly sets about
slaughtering the fiery Welsh Dragon the evil wizard has metamorphosed himself
into. This much cheered blow for feminism caps a most appealing performance by
Jacquelyn Kent, well matched in romance and song by her suitor the Prince
Cedric Lostalot of Michael Luxton.
this strong-on-story and traditional routines staging by Ben Tyreman, comedy
is in the more than capable hands of Andrew Beavis as Muddles the genial
jester who takes on the guises of several comic strip superheroes, and Phylip
Harries as Nurse Thoroughgood, a so buxom Dame as to make Dolly Parton look
like Twiggy by comparison.
Brian Hibbard projects a powerful Morgan the bad boyo, drawing deafening
audience responses that live up to the expectations of the aptly-named Hiss &
Gillian Elisa scores as the bossy boots Fairy Blodwen who shepherds all in
rhyme and song to the hand clapping Mamma Mia happy ending. The lively dances
are choreographed by Carole Lloyd, the MD is Julian Tucker.
Review by Jon
Holliday - © 2009 The Stage Newspaper Limited