Audiences at the Pasadena Playhouse still haven’t quite gotten the hang of the panto. The British theatrical tradition, featuring classic fairy tales mashed up with topical jokes and hit pop songs, also is supposed to have booing, cheering and shouting. But after some necessary coaching, both cast and audience appear to be having a rip-roaring time. Sleeping Beauty and Her Winter Knight, directed by Bonnie Lythgoe and written by her son, Kris Lythgoe, follows previous adaptations of Aladdin and Snow White and features Olivia Holt (of the Disney Channel’s I Didn’t Do It) as Aurora and Lucy Lawless, former badass warrior princess Xena, as the evil fairy. A Disney star playing a Disney princess with a hint of Jennifer Lawrence throatiness, Holt has the act down. As her baby-faced love interest, Garrett Clayton is equal parts entitled bravado and winking smarminess. Ben Giroux and David Engel, as Aurora’s faithful chaperones, capture the kids with their skillful physical humor, while Lawless has more fun than anyone onstage, proving a delightfully vampy, punk-rock Maleficent. The vocalists are no slouches, with Tamyra Gray voicing two of the show’s standout numbers as the good fairy. Despite predictable, family-friendly contours, this self-aware production wedges in plenty of jokes about Game of Thrones and Tindr for the adults, while providing a fresh take on a familiar tale. Note: no performances Dec. 25, Dec. 31, Jan 1-2.

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Dec. 16. Continues through Jan. 4, 2014
(Expired: 01/04/15)

LA Weekly