Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Trio make this a real beauty

The Sleeping Beauty

BMOS Youtheatre

Old Rep, Birmingham


THERE are two outstanding performances and one big surprise in this creditable production, and the excellent trio providing them is supported by an enthusiastic team of youngsters who do everything expected of them.

At the top of the tree are Adaya Henry, splendidly deserving of the boos she receives as Carabosse the Black Fairy and goading her tormentors to more on every possible occasion. She also turns out to have a mature singing voice that is heard to advantage in Trouble and I Put a Spell on You; and Nathan Queeley-Dennis, who makes Pickles an infectiously happy character who rapidly achieves a resounding rapport with the audience.

These are two very different performances but they are the product of determined preparation and they work very well. Pickles dropped his hat on the first night, but he did not let this put him out of his happy stride: he simply picked it up and got on with the job in hand.

And the surprise? That is George Meredith, a young man who gives us a dame – Nanny Nookan Crannie – who is herself a surprise. She has all the necessary adjuncts but only a fraction of the years that such a role customarily demands, and she is always in charge of whatever is the action of the moment. This is a brave and – yes – a surprising contribution to Alan Hackett's happy show.


Isobel Robinson is the Princess who gets a 100-year sleep until she is awakened by Joe Sefton's Prince Michael. James Mateo-Salt and Sarah Hemming are her royal parents. Hannah Sefton is Lilac Fairy, leader of the good citizens of Fairyland, who is supported by Lauren Neale (Gold Fairy) and Aisling Kiely (Silver Fairy) in the fight against the formidable Black Fairy.

And in support of everybody are the villagers and courtiers, who sing and dance pleasingly and with enthusiasm whenever their chance comes – but there are one or two of them who are working so hard that they have forgotten to smile.

Smiles are important. They draw the audience in to you. They make your supporters happy that you are happy. Never make it obvious that you are concentrating like mad on not putting a foot wrong.

A particularly pleasing feature of the show is the Toys' Parade – but it would be good to see the participants making eye contact with each other as if they are interested in each other, and turning the occasion more obviously into a team effort, even if they are toys.

Choreography is by Melanie Flint and Chris Corcoran the musical director.

To 6-11-10.

John Slim

Meanwhile coming up behind you . . .


IT'S only early November, but the pantomime season is already up and running. Oh yes it is!

Leading the way is the highly-rated BMOS Youtheatre, a successful training ground over the years for youngsters who want a stage career, and currently staging a recruiting drive.

The enthusiastic cast for this panto range from 10 to 18, and they enjoyed plenty of audience participation on opening night.

This production lacks some of the zip I have seen in past shows by the company, and it would benefit from a little more singing and dancing, particularly in the first act which is rather pedestrian.

But there are plenty of good points, and one young man full of confidence is Nathan Queeley-Dennis, playing Pickles, who gets a job in the royal palace and proves a bundle of fun, along with George Meredith, the brightly-dressed dame, Nanny Nookan Crannie.

On the opposite side to the goodies, Adaya Henry excels as the evil fairy Carabosse. She sings beautifully, when the opportunity arises, and enjoys entertaining jousts with the audience.

Good performances, too, from Isobel Robinson (Princess Beauty) and Joe Sefton (Prince Michael).

Direction is by Alan Hackett with Melanie Flint's choreography and musical direction by Chris Corcoran. 

Paul Marston

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