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Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick! opens at Charing Cross Theatre on 24 November. Writer Jon Bradfield talks about the show.

When Vauxhall’s LGBT venue Above The Stag Theatre closed its doors last year, London lost its most popular annual adult pantomime. The Stag’s gloriously gay pantos – equal parts smart and stupid, smutty and sophisticated – were a feelgood festive favourite, garnering praise from the likes of Ian McKellen, Mark Gatiss, Deren Brown and Graham Norton.

The great news is, like a phoenix from the ashes, the team who made those shows have risen again to bring their brand of ribald romance to the West End with their biggest show yet, Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick! which comes to the Charing Cross Theatre (just by Heaven nightclub!) from 24 November.

Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick is a gay panto in London
Matthew Baldwin – Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick (Photo©EllieKurttz, image supplied)

With a cast packed with West End stars from the likes of Cabaret and The Book of Mormon, Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick is set in the fictional Baltic country of Slutvia. The story begins a century ago when the young heir to the throne, Prince “Arry”, is about to turn 21 – and is desperate to snag a hot boy at his birthday ball. But of course, his wicked uncle has put a curse on him. When Arry gets pricked (and this being an adult pantomime, we’re not talking about thorns), he falls asleep only to wake up 100 years later in the modern world.

“It’s a lot ruder than the Disney and a lot more bonkers”, says writer Jon Bradfield, “but if you dig back into early versions of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, it was quite mad. Cannibalism, the works. So we reckoned we could basically do what we liked with it. With all our Christmas shows, we’re asking, what could this famous story be like if the lead character was gay? That doesn’t just affect who they fall in love with. It means playing with queer culture, sex, different kinds of relationships.”

Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick is a gay panto at The Charring Cross Theatre in London.
Myles Hart – Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick (Photo©EllieKurttz, image supplied)

What can audiences expect? “Stupid jokes, rude jokes, gay jokes, topical jokes, uplifting songs, ridiculous costumes, a gorgeous set, a bit of sci-fi, and I hope a lot of heart. It’s a traditional panto with a brilliant dame, an audience singalong and a slop scene. What I love is we have some people reliving the experience of going to the panto as a kid, and then, because London is such a global city, we get to introduce people from all over the world to panto for the first time. And they fall in love with it.”

What’s it like making a show for a bigger theatre? “It’s exciting and a bit scary. This is the first show we’ve made with our own theatre company, so we’re in control, but we’re also responsible for everything. And everything costs more – it’s like buying a flat. In London! But I think it’ll still feel intimate. Charing Cross Theatre was originally a music hall, and unlike a lot of the bigger theatres in town, it has a great late-opening bar with live music. So it’ll feel like a proper night out.”

Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick is produced by He’s Behind You, the new company Jon founded with his Above The Stag panto co-writer Martin Hooper, regular director Andrew Becket, producer Oli Sones and their reliably quick-witted panto dame Matthew Baldwin, who is adored (and a little feared) by audiences for his performances in such shows as Dick Whittington: A New Dick in Town and Mother Goose Cracks One Out. Industry bible The Stage described him as “an exceptional dame.” The Guardian called him, simply, “sublime”.

Book tickets for Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick at 

Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick opens at the Charing Cross Theatre on 24 November, The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NL, United Kingdom. 

Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick at The Charring Cross Theatre in London
Matthew Baldwin, Myles Hart – Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick (Photo©EllieKurttz, image supplied)
Jordan Stamatiadis – Sleeping Beauty Takes A Prick (Photo©EllieKurttz, image supplied)
Lesbian Social in West London pub on 1st August 2024

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