The bottom line
Sleeping Beauty is an English panto playing at Federal Way's Centerstage Theater through Dec. 20. The panto is a British theatrical holiday tradition in which a fairy tale is told as a comedy, complete with gender role reversals, jokes that poke fun at the audience and local cities, plus parodies of popular songs. This show, recommended for ages 4 and up, includes tons of audience participation, along with jokes and comedic moments for all ages.
Cheerfully narrated by Fairy Moonbeam (Sara Henley-Hicks, who has a powerhouse voice), Centerstage's version of Sleeping Beauty includes the usual characters of Princess Aurora, a handsome prince (Prince Peter of Puyallup) and the evil fairy Carabosse (called Maleficent in other versions of the story). You'll find non-traditional characters too, such as the princess's friend Jangles and Aurora’s nurse, Nurse Nellie.
Jangles, played by Joshua Williamson, excels in physical comedy.The kids in the audience cracked up as he fell down, got flour in the face, and even stirred cake batter with his head in a great cooking scene. Actor and artistic director Alan Bryce stole the show as Nurse Nellie with headdresses and gowns that became more ridiculous and hilarious with each costume change. The production abounds with silly, groan-worthy jokes, and plenty of slapstick humor.
The musical numbers were lots of fun, with the talented cast changing the words of popular contemporary songs to fit the story. Kids will love hearing songs like “Shake It Off,” Hot Stuff,” and “Let It Go” and “Ghostbusters” with different lyrics. The audience participation is one of the best parts of the show. The actors tell the audience when to respond, such as yelling “boo” at Carabosse and clapping for Fairy Moonbeam. Nurse Nellie picked one man in the audience and then kept up a running joke with him throughout the show. After the play, the actors host a short sing-along in which some children are selected to come onto the stage and join in.
This show was truly for the whole family. My three kids, ages 16,12 and 8 all equally enjoyed the play. (And my husband may have laughed harder than the kids.) There were plenty of gags and slapstick comedy for younger kids, along with humor for the adults and older teens. My family enjoyed it so much that we are planning to make this production a December tradition.
Parents should know
The theater recommends this show for ages 4 and older. The only caution for parents is that the first act is rather long, which might be hard for little ones to sit through. Otherwise, this is a fun show for the whole family.
- Bottled water, coffee, and small snacks are available for sale in the lobby.
- There is open seating, so you might want to arrive early.
- Tip for the men: Don’t sit too close to the front if you want to avoid catching Nurse Nellie’s eye and becoming part of the show!
- The actors come out to the lobby for pictures and autographs after the show, so have your camera ready.
If you go ...
When: Sleeping Beauty plays at Centerstage Theater through Dec. 20
Where: 3200 S.W. Dash Point Road in Federal Way.
Prices: Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, military and students, and $10 for youth under age 25. Buy online.
Directions tip: The theater is located in a wooded area. After leaving the main road, you will drive down a long, curving road. As the box office told me, “You will think you are lost, but you’re not!” They also recommend, if using GPS, entering the whole street name and not abbreviating “point” or “road.” That being said, I had no trouble finding the theater.