Last night my daughter and I braved storm Pia to head over to the M&S Bank Arena for a Panto…. Oh no you didn’t.
No, seriously- we did. We were in need of a little Christmas spirit which we found as soon as we hopped off the train at James Street and wandered through the beautiful Albert Dock and their lovely light display.
Before I begin, let me tell you this; we are professional Pantomime goers! The girls went to their first Panto at The wonderful Epstein Theatre when they were tots (and Callum Best played a cracking Prince Charming) Our annual tradition for years has been for them to have a Christmas trip to the hairdressers for wash, cut and blow dry followed by a trip to the panto on December 23rd. We have done the Epstein, Empire, Storyhouse and Theatre Clywd but this year plans were a bit up in the air and we didn’t have anything booked so we were thrilled to be given the opportunity to review The Shone Production Ltd production of Sleeping Beauty at The M and S Auditorium. Expectations and excitement levels were high!
The big name this year is Katie Price as the Wicked Fairy Carabosse who worked well with the rest of the cast who are panto regulars Bipo the Castle Clown and Queen Fifi of Fazakerley were a really great double act. The fairy is played by Lucy Kay of Britains Got Talent and there were plenty of opportunities for her to showcase her superb singing voice giving us the chance to join in with plenty of recognisable hits.
Any panto is only as good as the audience they perform to and the evening – mid week- the auditorium was only around 60% full which, on show 3 of the day could have disheartened the cast but they were absolutely excellent at getting people involved and encouraging the boo’s, hisses and cheers. Their energy, comic timing and genuine enjoyment was outstanding and they brought us all along for the ride which was a joy.
Hannah is a real critic and we both felt that the storyline went a bit off at times; for example- before the interval Beauty pricked her finger and fell asleep for 100 years as did the rest of the cast but, in the second half they were out and about looking for her (surely she is asleep in the palace where the rest of you should be too?) There was also a discussion on the train home about Beauty and the Prince rushing into marriage solely based on looks their but who goes to panto for life lessons and a watertight storyline?!
The story allowed for plenty of asides including a Punch and Judy show, a 3D spooky forest scene and loads of one liners, innuendo and local banter which had the audience crying with laughter- adults in particular. There is an adults only performance on 27th December which I imagine will take this to a whole new level and I think that would be a hilarious way to round off a Twixtmas day out in town for the grown ups.
At 2hrs 30 it is a pretty long show but the dancing, singing and variety performance feel of the show makes the time fly by and we really enjoyed it. It is perfect family fun and entertainment. The 3D element and camera in the audience elements make it really stand out and memorable.
The Auditorium is easy to get to by public transport, there’s free parking, plenty of places to grab a bite to eat near by and there are some tickets still remaining if you want to check it out.
The show is on until 30th December with various ticket levels and special offers. Go to M&S Bank Arena Liverpool (mandsbankarena.com) to find out more.