Christmas isn’t Christmas without a trip to the Pantomime… and Huddersfields’ favourite Panto is back at the Lawrence Batley Theatre for the 4th year running. This year’s Christmas panto is Sleeping Beauty, Oh yes it is and, they just keep getting bigger and better with sumptuous costumes, brilliant foot-stomping tunes and an outrageous Dame, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
With just a week left until Christmas, things are really getting busy and between the school plays, festive parties and gift shopping it’s easy to forget to have some fun with your family!
So, I was grateful for the opportunity to attend the Lawrence Batley Theatre’s production of Sleeping Beauty last week. My little boy is 3 years old, so I wasn’t sure if he is old enough yet for the evening performances and much-loved storyline, but there really was something for all of us to enjoy.
Harry was engrossed by the songs and the dragon, 3-month-old James by the lights and colours and Mummy and Daddy couldn’t help but chuckle at ‘Nanny Fanny’ (Robin Simpson). When my other half laughs at a joke, you know you’ve hit the nail on the head with the Dad jokes.
Director Joyce Branagh has written four pantomimes and lives in West Yorkshire, while playwright Andrew Pollard specialises in writing for families (he also appeared as John Bune in Emmerdale!). Henry Filoux-Bennett, Chief Executive and Artistic Director oat the theatre said of the duo:
‘I’ve heard so much about our audiences’ fantastic reaction to previous productions and this is set to build and excel upon their previous triumphs.’
The opening performance from the cast of Sleeping Beauty was stunning.
From the moment the curtain lifted there was a proud Yorkshire theme which helps set this story apart from the huge offering of pantos that we have on offer every year. From Hester the Jester (Nicola Jayne Ingram) with her thick local accent to the references of nearby towns and suburbs.
The songs too made this a high-quality show, from amazing routines choreographed around well-known hits like Robbie Williams’ ‘Let Me Entertain You’, to originals by like ‘When We Grow Up’ and ‘I’m Stuck on You.’
Nanny Fanny’s ‘Yorkshire Haka was the highlight of the show for me!
Finally, pantos are known for their corny jokes, but my inner feminist is all too often prickled by the uncomfortable stereotyping of larger women, the transgender community and ‘damsels in distress’. Happily, Sleeping Beauty defied this with a cast of strong female leads who stole the show and a challenge to typical parenting roles.
King Herbert the Hesitant (Richard Hand), who was left as Princess Aurora’s primary caregiver after her mother passed away, was dishing out parenting jokes, Aurora (Alyce Liburd) was seen practicing football in between her lessons, and Hayley Russell was sensational and strong as the evil Belladonna Bile.
Luke, Harry, Baby James and I had a wonderful family evening which got our Christmas celebrations off to a fun start.
We walked out into the rain with smiles on our faces and festive cheer in our hearts, chuffed to have made memories to add to our first Christmas as a family of four. Nanny Fanny will always be a part of that!
So, if you’re looking for something to do with your kids over the next few weeks, this panto is on until Sunday 5th January. The perfect Christmas gift for you all to share is some time together to remember forever.
With thanks to The Lawrence Batley Theatre and Bonner and Hindley for the gifted family ticket.