|By Susie McKenna|
Music Steven Edis
Musical Director Mark Dickman
Choreographer Carl Parris
Kick Ass In Fairyland
Panto time! Oh, yes it is! 😁
Hackney Empire triumphs in its unashamedly musical theatre-slapstick-mixture take on Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm's Sleeping Beauty with Alexia Khadime as Tahlia, the princess with powerhouse finger tips and vocal chords.
An auditorium of big and little kids (and one tinsel-trimmed baubled automotive reviewer) settled down to watch, cheer, boo and sing along with the citizens and Royals of Hackneytonia headed by benevolent widowed King Eric the Undecided (Tony Whittle).
Along with a trio of powerhouse fairy godmothers (Sharon Ballard, Georgia Oldman and Kiruna Stamell), King Eric and Dame Nanny Nora (Gavin Spokes) stick together to defy the curse on the unwitting princess by an uninvited naming ceremony guest ... OK, you probably know the broad brush strokes of the story.😉
We loved the Arthur Rackham combined with Disney-style set design by Lotte Collett, sliding on the deep Hackney Empire (architect Frank Matcham) stage during seamless scene transitions.
There's a vampish and vampire-ish villainess in the maganificent Sharon D Clarke as wicked fairy Carabosse with a Caribbean accent and a penchant for a, however reluctant, toyboy prince Gabriel (Wayne Perrey) who luckily enough has a princess to rescue him ...😊
Yes, there's a bit of politics (what's a kingdom without politics?!) but even this remains (no pun intended!) just about all-inclusive. Dame Nora's final costume wittily encompasses all sides of the Brexit question and still has enough bright colours and humour to keep even the littlest kiddies in a fit of giggles and engaged in the performance.
There's Denzil (Kat B) a cute orange and red dragon audience favourite who, like a missing character from The Wizard Of Oz, is searching for his puff. An exremely ogre-ish ogre (Leon Sweeney) and a wonderful time-lapse growth and cutting away of those pesky thorns enveloping the sleeping kingdom (oh dear, have I given the plot away? 😜!!)
By the end of a fast-moving evening, a quick ongoing unofficial referendum amongst the kids in the stalls - whether any of them were sleeping, crying or seemed bored - drew a thumping majority of wide-awake youngsters. Helped of course by the optional glittery, illuminated merchandise sold at a stall tucked away discreetly at the back of the stalls.
It's a loud (the Hackney Empire is a huge, cavernous purpose-built music hall), brash and breezy production with lots of song, dance and spectacle. There are some impressive sets of pipes ringing the rafters, from Alexia Khadima, Sharon D Clarke, Wayne Perrey's Prince Gabriel and an unusually sweet-voiced Dame Nora from Gavin Spokes. So it's a rootin', tootin' green light for a scrumptious seasonal feast of fun, frolics and a princess with superpowers. What's not to like?!!! 😊