Ross Petty’s Sleeping Beauty at Toronto’s Elgin Theatre is a grand crowd-pleaser. You’ll see a creative variation of this classic fairy tale that includes ninja dance moves, groan-worthy puns and a huge amount of audience participation, mostly in the form of laughter and booing. If you’re looking for a festive family outing for the holidays, see Sleeping Beauty!
The story: Princess Rose (AJ Bridel) of Torontonia needs to reach her 18th birthday without getting pricked by a sharp object; otherwise, she’ll be cursed by the evil Malignicent (stunning and stylish Hilary Farr) to sleep for the rest of her life. To protect Rose, her royal parents (Laurie Murdoch and Lisa Horner) have literally placed her in a bubble. Plus, Rose gets the added protection of swift-moving dancing “Charms” (Alexandra Beaton, Taveeta Szymanowicz and Jennifer Mote) who act as guardians.
When Rose ends up getting poked by a turntable needle, much to the dismay of lovestruck musician Luke (James Daly) and to the glee of Malignicent, she ends up going to another universe–one for sleepers. All the good people of the Torontonia kingdom, including the hilarious fairy-in-training Sparklebum (Paul Constable), must attempt to bring her back to reality.
Sparklebum, who doesn’t appreciate being reminded of her trainee status and who has an unfairy-like figure, was for me the one who provoked the most smiles and giggles. Even when she interviewed the three little girls from the audience, she built off their responses to make us laugh. When she sang “I’d wanna be me too,” I could not stop laughing. For my young theatre companion, Sparklebum was also his favourite character. The fact that “bum” was part of her name likely scored her extra points.
Speaking of comedy, I loved that one character was late arriving on stage because he was preparing a speech for US Vice-President Elect Mike Pence. It was awesome how international and local politics got us chuckling and how the wordplay got us groaning.
Other elements of Sleeping Beauty that highly impressed me were the dance and music. As for the trio of Charms, their intense martial arts-inspired dance moves were amazing. Their high kicks and defensive stances were simply delightful to watch. And when it came to the music, the wonderful universe of sleepers was presented in a song that nicely brought together Dreamweaver, Mister Sandman, Dream a Little Dream and a few other songs about catching your ZZZs. Beautiful composition.
The only part that didn’t quite work for me was the design contest between Sparklebum and Malignicent. It seemed to have fallen a bit flat, maybe because we were tasked to cheer on Malignicent and boo for Sparklebum, which seemed so forced.
On the way from the theatre, my kid mentioned how he loved the elevator. I guess that’s another good reason to take your family to Sleeping Beauty. The cage elevator is indeed memorable, since there are many manual actions to perform to get it to work, from moving a lever to opening and closing the door. Not to worry, there is a trained operator in there the whole time!
In sum, Sleeping Beauty is a family musical that will make you, your toddler and your grandparents laugh and be entertained. Go see it, and don’t forget to take the lift.
- Sleeping Beauty is playing until January 7, 2017 at the Elgin Theatre (189 Yonge St.).
- Showtimes vary between 7 PM and 2 PM depending on whether the dates are during the school holiday. Please see the calendar.
- Tickets range from $27 to $69 for children 12 and under, and from $27 to $99 for adults.
- There is one intermission.
Photo by Bruce Zinger: L-R Alexandra Beaton, James Daly, AJ Bridel, Eddie Glen, Hilary Farr, Paul Constable, and Taveeta Szymanowicz