Sleeping Beauty (review). Crazy Anita wows Waterside first-nighters

Anita Dobson in Sleeping Beauty at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Photo by Barry Rivett
Anita Dobson in Sleeping Beauty at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Photo by Barry Rivett

There aren’t many pantomimes that can boast a fire-breathing dragon in the cast but, by the wonder of fairy wizardry, one makes a cameo appearance in the dazzling Sleeping Beauty that opened last night at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre.

But he was nothing compared to the crazy Anita Dobson who slayed the audience with a quite deranged turn as the wicked fairy, Carabosse.

Holly Brewer and Christian Lund

Holly Brewer and Christian Lund

She had me spellbound with her first outpouring of gobbledegook as she tore up the rule book and took her turn as one of the funniest leading ladies I’ve ever seen in a panto. She was totally insane.

“Hello darlings! Don’t you think I’m fabulous?” she announced. It may have been a rhetorical question but the answer from everyone in the first night audience was a resounding “yes.”

One minute she was belting out one of her hubby’s Queen hits and the next pirouetting around in a tight tutu (with, it has to be said, a pretty sensational figure). It was a legendary performance.

Sleeping Beauty can be a bit of a weak story. After all, not much happens once the heroine and all her retinue are put to sleep for a 100 years.

But this is one panto that isn’t caught napping. While Beauty counts sheep comic Andy Collins keeps the night bubbling along with (for him) an exhaustive Yuletide version of 12 Days of Christmas which includes a soaking for theatre-goers (to the delight of the hordes of youngsters in the auditorium and VIP guest Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley).

There’s also the small matter of rescuing the handsome prince from the clutches of Carabosse, hacking through a forest of brambles and saving Beauty from a timeless snooze. Oh, and did I mention a dragon? His future is left in the hands of Danish heartthrob Christian Lund who plays the besotted Prince Antonio.

He and Beauty (gorgeous local girl Holly Brewer) make a lovely couple although theirs is a whirlwind romance (with a lengthy hiatus in the middle!).

The princess had spent her childhood growing up in a palace to protect her from Carabosse’s vile curse which foretold that once she reached 18 the girl would prick her finger and die.

What the evil fairy didn’t know was that another fairy commuted the sentence to a 100 years sleep, only for her to be awoken by love’s first kiss.

Lund is tall, blond and rather heroic, and Carabosse rather fancies him as a toyboy (hope Brian May gave script approval), but even after a century locked up in her castle he refuses to succumb to her charms.

It’s all jolly fun with well-choreographed dance routines, a playlist of popular chart songs, nothing to upset your granny and plenty to make the whole family laugh out loud.

Sleeping Beauty runs until January 5. For tickets and performance times call the box office 0844 871 7607 or visit

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