Last night I was very kindly invited along to the press night performance of Sleeping Beauty at the Pavilion theatre in Bournemouth. Going to the pantomime has become a bit of a family tradition over the past few years. Although we usually go on New Year’s Day, it was nice to attend a little earlier than usual this year and of course I am really grateful to have been able to go along as press to review the show, taking my mum and the three children with me.
The Pavilion is a lovely venue to watch the performance in. The high ornate ceilings are the perfect backdrop for the sparkly special effects as the lights go down and the show begins. My children are aged eight, six and two and the younger ones found it a little scary with the loud noises and the moments of darkness but overall all three of them enjoyed themselves and really got into the parts with audience participation.
The pantomime largely followed the pattern we’ve all come to know and love with lots of jokes for the adults (some a little more risqué than others) and plenty of songs for the children including several renditions of Baby Shark throughout – Carly was in her element! The characters all worked together well, Olivia Birchenough took the leading role of Briar Rose and Noel Brody, who has become a firm favourite at the Pavilion each December, was brilliant as fun-loving Silly Billy whilst David Ball (who also directs the show) was the perfect sidekick with the potty mouth as Nursie.
This year the character of Carabosse, the villain of the tale, was a dual role with Jennifer Ellison performing the first shows and Rita Simons of Eastenders fame taking the reigns after her return from the jungle for I’m a Celebrity. Although there were a couple of missed lines, the cast all worked well to laugh about it and made them work without issue. I find that those moments where it doesn’t quite go to plan actually makes the actors seem more human and adds to the entertainment.
The show really did have something for everyone with classic hits from Queen mixed in with tracks from The Greatest Showman and chart favourites from this year which got the children dancing and singing along. It even had references to Doctor Who and Back to the Future, which Cameron really enjoyed.
The only thing I wasn’t keen on was that the children who went up on stage had been picked ahead of time, rather than during the show and Carly especially was really sad to not have had the chance to get up there especially when they got to sing Baby Shark with the audience (I told you it popped up a few times during the night). We were only sat around ten rows back from the front and didn’t get wet/sweets/streamers at the end which was a bit disappointing too as it felt like we were just out of the range for these (I would advise getting seats as close to the front as possible if you want the fully immersive experience and the chance to be picked on by the characters!).
Overall we had a fantastic time and I would recommend going to watch Sleeping Beauty if you are looking for a pantomime which is suitable for the whole family. It is a long one though (we didn’t leave until almost 10pm) so I would recommend the matinee if you are taking along very young children to prevent them getting tired and starting to misbehave as Benjamin did towards the end. There are some loud noises, smoke and fire during the performance, so keep this in mind if you have children who are quite sensitive.
I was gifted tickets to watch the performance in exchange for an honest review. All words are my own. Images are property of BH Live and used with permission.