Leamington Spa Centre pantomime review: Beauty is a 'sleeper hit'

Spa Centre Pantomime stars JP McCue and Sean Dodds
Spa Centre Pantomime stars JP McCue and Sean Dodds

Sleeping Beauty, Royal Spa Centre (Leamington) Until December 30, call 01926 334418 or visit www.warwickdc.gov.uk/royalspacentre

Those who got the programme for this year’s Spa Centre panto will probably be glad to see that when they flick to the last few pages of the booklet that they will see that JP McCue will again be returning to the stage for the same event next year.

JP, who has appeared in the pantomime for the past five years and plays the dame again this season, gets the added kudos of having co-wrote the show this time around.

He’s obviously picked up on the successful formula from previous years and the show's main strength is the double act between him and his comedy sidekick Sean Dodds - playing the Jester.

The pair are the driving force of the production and it’s obvious why they keep being invited back to ply their craft with their ability to entertain and endear themselves to the full range of ages in the audience.

In regard to the story, Sleeping Beauty is a sweet and simple tale with a particularly spiteful villain in Carabosse played by Denise Pitter who was suitably sinister.

Teddy Moynihan, playing her crow-like henchman Fran, also deserves a mention for an impressive display of devious physicality which showed talents which no doubt led to him performing at the RSC.

There are plenty of traditional elements of the show to please long-time and older panto goers including audience participation, a ‘look behind you sketch’, a slapstick and humorous take on The 12 Days of Christmas and a nice adaptation of Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1970s disco hit September, some more contemporary attractions, songs and gags for the younger audience members and an animatronic surprise for all.

It’s also well paced and has a running time so as to provide bang for you buck while not being too long for the youngest sat watching.

What’s more, the show is supporting the Children’s Hyperinsulism Charity as its chosen good cause for the season, which is something we can all get behind.

It’s comforting to see that JP, and hopefully Sean along with him, will be returning for next year’s panto at the Spa Centre and also a pleasure to report that Sleeping Beauty is a big, fun, 'slumber party' and not a snooze fest.