Sleeping Beauty and the Pea

If you ever wondered what the groundling experience was like in Shakespeare’s time—yelling back at the cast as though their characters were speaking to you, sitting on the floor—then Hale’s Palladium may be the place to find out. In this family-friendly production by Fremont Players, such interaction is the coin of the realm, and a section of the front is allotted for ground-sitters (mostly kids). British pantomime shows (“pantos”) are traditionally performed around Christmas, with stock characters, music, cross-dressing, slapstick, buffoonery, light sexual innuendo, and variations on recognizable stories and fairy tales. Our guide to Sleeping Beauty is good fairy Esmeralda (Simon Neale), whose rotten sister Formica (Debbie Tully) wants to be fairy to the royal house of Montague. Her ambitions thwarted, Formica puts the King’s daughter, Princess Perpetua (Lindsay Erika Crain) to sleep. Twenty-one years later, lonely Prince Rudy (Katy Webber) commands Pea (Candace Reiter) to awaken Perpetua. Rudy’s hillbilly highness mother Queen Bobbie-Jo (Flora McGill) demands a test to prove Perpetua’s royal blood. In the barn-like Palladium, large gestures are necessary to conquer the poor acoustics, but it’s never hard to follow the thin but endearing plot, even under the rowdiest circumstances. As at a sporting event, the audience is half the show. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Saturdays, Sundays. Starts: Dec. 15. Continues through Jan. 13, 2012