REVIEW: Sleeping Beauty, Littlehampton Musical Comedy Society

Littlehampton Musical Comedy Society staged their first pantomime in 1957, and last week at the Windmill Theatre presented their sixtieth pantomime 'Sleeping Beauty' '“ and what a 'beauty' it was!

LMCS pic by John Covey
LMCS pic by John Covey

Expertly directed and choreographed by Michelle Shepherd-Ede, the show moved along at a cracking pace, helped by songs as diverse as 'I'm a Believer' and 'Busy Doing Nothing'. Musical Director, Gareth Jones, and his excellent band of musicians accompanied popular Disney numbers and songs from the shows, and the chorus were in particularly good voice, with good diction, and full of enthusiasm.

Saxona Woolgar, in the title role, certainly looked the part and had excellent stage presence, and made the perfect Princess for Luke Martin, playing his first-ever panto role as Prince Rupert of Rustingtonia! Possessing a fine singing voice, his rendition of 'No Matter What' entranced the audience.

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Jonathan Groves, in the role of Nurse Nelly, gave an extraordinary performance as the traditional pantomime dame, relishing every moment, and his 'side-kick', Presto the Jester, played by newcomer Luke Scattergood, was a bundle of energy, and between them they urged the audience to shout, boo, and sing, and supplied delighted children with showers of toffees!

LMCS pic by John Covey

The whole show was full of good, clean humour, and jokes and one-liners came thick and fast from other comic performances from John Carroll and Barry Bastable as Boggers and Sniffle, the henchmen to Malevolent, the evil spirit, played with great characterization by Ruth Roberts. She looked magnificent and acted superbly, but of course the audience hated her and booed non-stop every time she appeared. However, in true panto style, at the end of the show she was banished to Bognor!

The 'good' fairies were represented by Barbara Howland, Janet Webb and Saskia Whittle, as Flora, Fauna and Merriweather. Children cheered each time they appeared, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their performance of 'Chiquitita'. More comedy was provided by Mark Roberts as Sampson, the Prince's aide, and Ian Weston and Damone Whittle looked every inch the regal King and Queen.

A remarkable performance was put in by the Royal dog, Patches, an endearing terrier, who knew all his 'lines' and held a complete conversation with the cast! They say never to appear with animals or children, and as well as Patches, the chorus of young children captivated the audience with their singing and dancing and ready smiles.

The adult chorus were resplendent in an array of beautiful costumes, and credit must be given to the wardrobe team for providing such colourful, well-made outfits. Also the sets and props were exceptionally good, and even the stage itself was extra-special – a newly-laid,extra springy chequered floor, provided by LMCS, helped the show bounce along.

Everyone – backstage, on-stage and front-of-house worked tirelessly to make this a truly great pantomime which was written by Warren McWilliams, and was full of humour, slapstick, glorious singing and dancing, and wonderful costumes and sets – in fact all the ingredients that made Littlehampton Musical Comedy Society's sixtieth pantomime a huge success and truly memorable.

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