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Review: Sleeping Beauty at His Majesty's Aberdeen is a fun festive delight


By David Porter

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Gary McHugh and Alan McHugh in Sleeping Beauty at HMT.
Gary McHugh and Alan McHugh in Sleeping Beauty at HMT.

The HMT panto made a welcomed return to the stage with Sleeping Beauty, the latest to be penned by writer and dame extraordinaire Alan McHugh (as Nurse Nellie Macduff) returning for his 19th season to let rip with a spectacular mix of comedy, routines, song and of course a little touch of that special Gary magic.

That comes this year in the form of another McHugh, namely Greg McHugh who reprises his TV show persona as Gary Tank Commander from the BAFTA award-winning Scottish sitcom throughout the whole performance to play Nellie's son Gary McDuff.

And with both Alan and Gary's personas on show, its only a matter of time before they see who can crack the other one, to much hilarity from cast and audience alike.

Our own Sleeping Beauty this year is Jemma Ferries who is a delightfully Doric heir to the throne of Aberdonia, and is charmed by Prince Angus, in a return for Michael Karl-Lewis as the romantic lead.

Jemma Ferries and Michael Karl-Lewis as Princess Aurora and Prince Angus.
Jemma Ferries and Michael Karl-Lewis as Princess Aurora and Prince Angus.

No panto is complete without its villains and Julie Coombe positivly revels in her role as Carabosse getting the best call and responses of the show.

She is aided by her son, Slimeball, another welcome return for panto favourite Paul J Corrigan and her plans are foiled by Aberdeen's own Spirit of the Pantomime, Danielle Jam with her rhyming prose to counter the evil witches spells.

Julie Coombe as Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty at HMT.
Julie Coombe as Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty at HMT.

The tale of Sleeping Beauty can be a tricky one to stage, especially with your leading lady asleep for a good whack of the show, but it is all handled in inimitable McHugh fashion with comedic moments to delight all ages including word play (which went wrong for Gary this time), a visual gag sketch on romance at the Beach Ballroom, a travelling minstrels performance that will bring a tear to the eye (for the wrong reasons) and the 12 days of Christmas musical number that is barely controlled pandemonium.

The 12 Days of Chritmas ends in pandemonium.
The 12 Days of Chritmas ends in pandemonium.

Don't think that sitting far back in the stalls is going to save you this year from flying toilet rolls, and on the subject of flying, the Back to the Future inspired hoverboard skit will enthral anyone who is taken by the magic of the panto.

Sleeping Beauty is at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen until Sunday January 7.

Visit aberdeenperformingarts.com for ticket information.


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