"A visually stunning magical tale"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 19/12/18

Hitting all the right notes Chichester Festival Theatre’s final show for 2018 is the much-loved classic fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” adapted by Rufus Norris (Director – National Theatre) and given a different mischievous slant. The Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s annual Christmas production is this year skilfully directed by a former member Lucy Betts, with a musical score from Tom Brady and a magnificent set by Simon Higlett.

Based on the original tale by Charles Perrault, the childless King and Queen, after many years finally give birth to a daughter, but their young Princess is cursed at her christening so that on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on a spindle and die. However, the guardian fairy weaves a spell that she will not die but sleep for 100 years and can only be reawakened with a kiss from a Prince but as the darker story unfolds will good triumph over evil…?
Set designer Simon Higlett, as always, has triumphed with a breath-taking set. A central archway of huge twisted atmospheric branches framed in gold, and this coupled with Ryan Dawson Laight’s hugely imaginative subtly-hued costumes ensure this bewitching tale is visually stunning. Sprites, fairies, permanently hungry menacing ogres, other-worldly animals and thorns are all captivating in the most mystically inventive designs.

An impressive 66-strong ensemble transport us to this spirit world, with standout performances from Molly Berry’s (Queen) strong vocals, and the Goody fairy Emily McAlpine, Francesca McBride and Katie Utting who cover her varying ages over the years. The Palace courtiers excel with their interpretation and well-timed choreography, while charismatic Joe Russell plays the engaging Prince with Izzy Richardson the spirited and lively Princess Beauty. Mention too for the Table Slave brilliantly captured by Alfie Ayling.

As the stage comes alive you are held captive from beginning to end as the fairy dust is sprinkled on this unique springboard showcasing these young stars, many of whom may well go on to have a career in the theatre.

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