Republished by kind permission from Neals Paper.
In SLEEPING BEAUTY: A MUSICAL PANTO, the mayhem can be a little more focused and the story more involving even while admitting it is simplified for the benefit of the children this latest of People’s Light’s Christmas pantos is designed to serve.
The Grimmish fairy tale kingdom is transformed to Paoli Shoals, a town depressed by the collapse of a once-thriving recording industry, and Princess Aurora is a prep-school-dressed science geek who cares more for astronomy than the warp and woof of spindles — A record stylus replaces those in the danger department. — while her would-be prince is obsessed with insects and microscopic life forms.
All remains silly enough to be enjoyable, and Pete Pryor’s production includes bang-up moments from Kim Carson as a glamorous hard-rocking villain who takes over the stage with each appearance and each song’ Luke Brahdt, showing even more facets of the talent that is quickly earning him points as Philly theater’s Most Valuable Player, Mark Lazar, delighting audiences once again as the quintessential panto dame — Lazar brilliantly handles one moment in which the audience immediately guesses something he wants to draw out with clues, and he tells the stage manager to cut to the end of his bit and proceed. — Tabitha Allen, making coy moues as she celebrates her status the moon — Yes, that moon. — and most especially Abigail Brown as an ice cream-loving star, Sirius, out of orbit and showing as much poise as a dancer, singer, and actress at what I guess to be age 10 as a seasoned theater veteran. This girl’s got the goods!
All is sprightly and happy. SLEEPING BEAUTY doesn’t quite scale of the heights of Cinderella, but it’s a vast improvement over King Arthur and the Red Dragon and The Three Musketeers: The Later Years in terms of fun and providing the good time panto should always promise.
[People's Light & Theatre, 39 Conestoga Road] November 16-January 15, 2016; peopleslight.org.