Every year when I come out of the Hawth panto, I always say ‘how can they better that?’.
I certainly said it last year. And guess what, I said it again this year.
Sleeping Beauty is somehow, bigger, better, funnier and more spectacular than last year’s effort.
Stephen Mulhern is back as the star of the show and keeps the show going along on the right course.
But it is far from a one man show.
Mulhern is backed up a by a brilliant and talented cast who more than hold their own with the Britain’s Got More Talent star.
CBeebies star Cat Sandion is a ray of sunshine as Fairy Moonbeam while Josh James and Lauren Cocoracchio make a very cute couple as Prince Michael and Beauty.
But it’s Hilary O’Neill as the evil Carabosse and Michael J Batchelor as Nurse Nellie (the dame) who really steal the show.
O’Neill is a very talented performer, combining some great impressions (I particularly enjoyed Tess Daly) with a great singing voice and brilliant comic timing.
Batchelor as the dame has some amazing costumes and enjoyed wonderful chemistry with all the cast. He and Mulhern riffed off each other very well.
The set pieces and dance routines are very good. We all know there’s a dragon in the story of Sleeping Beauty, but I will be surprised if you seen one as impressive or spectacular as the one which appears on the Hawth stage.
One particular skit involving vinyl records hit the right note, while the obligatory slapstick scene involving leaking taps was great fun.
The music was typically topical and relevant. One Direction and Taylor Swift were given the panto treatment while a couple of songs from Frozen were inevitably sung - but what self-respecting panto wouldn’t reference the biggest Disney film of all time?
And what about the jokes? Well, the cast deliver something for everyone. There’s enough sauce to keep the dads happy while the kids were kept laughing all the way through.
The Hawth and Evolution Productions keep pulling it out of the bag with their pantos. But how can it get any better it next year?