PANTO princes seem to have it all too easy these days. There’s just not much peril for them to overcome any more. It’s particularly true of the flash Prince Barry (Michael Harper) who turns up, sets his laser to “Lumber Jack” and saves the day in less time than a ray gun takes to blaze through a wicked minion’s withered body.
Suitably impressed by the iLaser 5 and some nifty slapstick, however, the audience of children in the NEAC yesterday morning really didn’t seem to mind.
Performed by NC Acting students from Telford College in conjunction with their Technical Theatre and Make-up Artist counterparts, Sleeping Beauty is a far tougher story for the cast themselves than their on-stage alter-egos.
For many of the performers, the show is their first experience of acting on stage since the course began. A daunting task, especially when you appreciate the fact that panto is one of the most audience-oriented experiences in theatre. The cast are not just delivering their lines but are expected to create an intimate rapport, deliver witty ad-libs and get young children up on their feet shouting out, cheering and dancing. As the actors will have discovered with the aid of one particularly enthusiastic young heckler – pointing out, amongst other things, that fairies aren’t real – it’s no short order for experienced actors, let alone newbies.
Playing with two casts, alternating performances, the chance to hone these skills over five performances each is both a blessing and a challenge. But at a bargain £2.50 a pop for tickets it’s unlikely that they’ll be alone while they hone their abilities.
With a witty, engaging script to keep the show on track and a great deal of on confidence, there’s a lot of charm and energy in the production.
Over the next week it will be interesting to see how the casts pull together to tighten up their dance routines, comic timing and delivery. It would be a delight to see them really invest in bringing the punters on a journey with them and bringing the children in the audience up to dance on stage at the end.
Now there’s a peril to overcome by Friday.
Run ends on Friday