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Review: Sleeping Beauty by Margate Operatic Society at Margate Winter Gardens

By Trevor Sturgess

It’s panto season again. Oh yes it is! 

You can rely on Margate Operatic Society to kick-start the festive season and Sleeping Beauty at the Winter Gardens did not disappoint.

It might well have done so this year because, for the first time in years, award-winning actor/director Stuart Clements was not directly involved. He’s taking a well-earned break.

Margate Operatic Society's production of Sleeping Beauty Picture Philippa Myhill of Photogenic Photography

Margate Operatic Society's production of Sleeping Beauty Picture: Philippa Myhill of Photogenic Photography

We missed his comic talent but MOS has a depth of ability that showed this company can do a good job without such a key player. And of course it’s important to develop fresh talent and give others a go.

New director Ian Cronin made an encouraging debut. He not only co-wrote and adapted the script with Harcus Copper but also created a production that fizzed and crackled with festive fun.

He mostly stuck to the tried and tested formula we expect from this quintessentially British style of theatre at Christmas and the New Year. But he was not afraid to update and localise the fairy tale for a modern Thanet audience.

He sensibly stuffed his production with youthful vigour, and tapped into a cooler style of panto sought by his younger performers and audience.

Sleeping Beauty Picture Philippa Myhill of Photogenic Photography

Sleeping Beauty Picture: Philippa Myhill of Photogenic Photography

Sleeping Beauty was an entertaining ensemble performance, with, as ever, good use of the wide stage.

But there were impressive standouts from Harcus Copper as Igor, a jolly lisping hunchback and far too good-humoured to be Maleficent’s sidekick, Lloyd Newstead as the cheery cross-dressing Nursey, and Megan Webb as the deliciously evil Maleficent.

Molly Knight as Princess Rose displayed her wealth of talent by enchanting the audience with assured singing, acting and dancing. As ever with MOS, dance is the standout feature.

Donna Clements, Amy Simpson and Lyndsey Copper did a fine choreographic job, designing
energetic and well co-ordinated routines to pop hits past and present.

Margate Operatic Society Picture Philippa Myhill of Photogenic Photography

Margate Operatic Society Picture: Philippa Myhill of Photogenic Photography

Kung-Fu Dancing, with the youngest dancers wearing striking black outfits and red bandanas, augmented by Igor’s frenetic leaps and bounds, worked particularly well.

Once again, congratulations to the costume department that, while depleted this year by health issues, created a stunning array of colourful outfits.

Sleeping Beauty was well up to this company’s award-winning standards and delighted audiences throughout the week.

* The next MOS production is Showtime 2018, directed and choreographed by Donna Clements, at the Winter Gardens from Tuesday, May 29 to Saturday, June 2.

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