FOR the few Grinches who were still wandering around Galashiels last week, a trip to the Volunteer Hall would certainly have restored the Christmas spirit.

Since 1990 the Right Angle Theatre Company has been making sure there's enough feel-good-factor in the town to last throughout the festive season and beyond with the staging of an annual pantomime.

And this year's crackpot carry-on will certainly be regarded as one of the best yet.

Sleeping Beauty was brought bang up to date with mobile phones, spell-checkers, defibrillators and Brexit.

And if the bellows of laughter coming from the audience was anything to go by, it certainly hit the mark.

Leading lights Amy Thomson and Stuart Mitchell bring professional acting ability and wonderful singing voices to the stage.

Their performances made sure the story unfolded with some resemblance of order, while their magnificent duet of Keane's Somewhere Only We Know could have stopped romantics the world over in their tracks.

But, as with the very best pantos, the crazy characters always steal the show.

Jodie Miller was a natural in the dragged-up dame role of Nurse Hettie Harpic.

Armed with one-liners, put-downs and a riotous wardrobe, the local hair-dresser was a blast.

And equally appealing throughout the entire three-hour show was mad-cap palace handyman Muddles, played by Billy Rooney.

If Zippy, George and Bungle are ever planning to bring back Rainbow, in the Hawick actor they have a ready-replacement for Geoffrey.

Antony Wilson and Katie Gordon are natural entertainers and their pairing of Fetch and Carrie provided some of the funniest moments of the entire show - their Burnham on Sea microwave joke was worth the admission fee alone.

These four crazy characters swayed towards slapstick, flirted with farce and brought down the house with a bombardment of belly-laughs.

Despite all the fun and frivolity, though, Sleeping Beauty was still a sensational piece of stage theatre.

Julia Noble and Steve Hartley-Oliver were authoritative and appealing as Queen Marigold and King Cactus.

And the regular arrival of sinister Witch Hazel, played by both Tracey Borthwick and Julie Smith, in a cloud of customary green smoke made sure the young audience were kept on their toes.

The couplet duels between the villainous Witch and Fairy Lilac, played exquisitely by Amanda Blacklock, were both clever and entertaining.

Couplets aside, music was at the heart of Sleeping Beauty, from the opening Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer all the way through the seasonal finale, and many of the most memorable numbers came from Fairy Lilac and her supporting coloured fairies of Shannon Mack, Ruby Everett, Caitlin Green and Katie Wilson.

From You Can Do Magic and Dream a Little Dream of Me to the luscious Hushabye Mountain, Amanda and her young apprentices were wonderful.

A beautiful rendition of Born with a Smile on My Face was the highlight of Aimee Richardson's all-to-short appearance as Young Rose.

And the children's fun-filled version of Wake Up You Sleepy Head was also among the many highlights of a fantastic night of musical theatre.

The songs came thick and fast - as did the jokes.

Hawick, Melrose and Tweedbank were ridiculed regularly, as were Theresa May, the Ladhope Vale one-way system and the residents of Abbotsford Court.

The laughs were loud and the cheers, especially when Braw Lad and Braw Lass Greg Kelly and Kimberley O'May turned up for Rose's Christening, were even louder.

The choreography was both imaginative and eye-catching with dancers Emma Wilson, Jess Thomson, Rachel Falconer and Sara Facchini having obviously put in the rehearsal hours.

The score was foot-tappingly good, the scene changes were swift and the stage was picture perfect.

But ultimately it's the actors, dancers and singers who take a production to new heights.

And when the cast is enjoying themselves as much as the audience, the people behind the Right Angle Theatre Company can go to sleep this Christmas with a smile on their faces.


Fairy Lilac: Amanda Blacklock

Witch Hazel: Julie Smith/Tracey Borthwick

Muddles: Billy Rooney

King Cactus: Steve Hartley-Oliver

Queen Marigold: Julia Noble

Nurse Hettie Harpic: Jodie Millar

Fetch: Antony Wilson

Carrie: Katie Gordon

Fairy Red: Shannon Mack

Fairy Yellow: Ruby Everett

Fairy Green: Caitlin Green

Fairy Blue: Katie Wilson

Young Rose: Aimee Richardson

Prince Alexis: Stuart Mitchell

Rose: Amy Thomson

Dancers: Sara Facchini, Rachel falconer, Jess Thomson and Emma Wilson.

Chorus: Ruaridh Anderson, Charli Black, Tracy Borthwick, Callum Crooks, Erin Gallagher, Nicole Hughes, Mya Lamb, Molly McFarlane, Lee-Anne Robinson, Millie Robinson, Ally Turnbull, Eilidh Walker.

Children (Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday): Abigail Burns, Ellie Cockburn, Grace Decoteau, Rhianna Devlin, Faith Heriot, Fraser Scott Hermiston, Chloe Noble, Ceijay Robinson, Rebecca Scott, Max Turnbull and Ellie Welsh.

(Wednesday/Friday): Simona Andom, Sophia Blaen, Georgie Everett, Skye Machara Henderson, Sky Hume, Chloe Johnston, Emily Johnstone, Lucy Johnstone, Ellie mcLaren, Molly McLaren, Carrie Smith and Isla Train.


Stage Crew: Billy Easson, Steven Headspeath, Craig Monks, Adam Nichol and Malcolm Wilson.

Prompter: Sheila Wilson

Make Up & Hair: Team from Millar's Hair Salon

Make Up Co-ordinator: Yvonne Keddie

Props: Gordon Keddie and Sarah Philips

Children's Co-ordinator: Amanda Blacklock

Children's Organizer: Michelle Devlin

Photographs: Jade Pringle

Group Bookings: Morag Keddie

Raffle: Susan Falconer

Scenery: Border Studios

Front of House: Lana Thomson

Keyboards: Chris Achenbach

Percussion: Graham Borthwick