If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will have noticed that we are huge panto fans in this family (Oh yes, we are!)
We’ve just been to see this year’s Easter panto, beauty & the Beast at St Helens Theatre Royal & loved it. We really liked that Beauty & the Beast isn’t a traditional panto so it didn’t feel like we were just trying to transfer a Christmas production to Easter. This felt fresh and especially current as Beauty & the Beast is still on at the cinema. (We haven’t managed to go to see it yet & I’m wondering if it is suitable for a 6yo?)
Anyway, back to the panto. The show starts with a strong musical number complete with the dancers that I have commented about before – They were no less professional this time round. My girls were transfixed as ever.
Belle is played by Amy Thompson from Milkshake who turns out to be a brilliant singer. The characteristic yellow dress of Belle is present in the panto – as well as in the dozens of little girls that turned up in theirs too. I asked my Tara if she would have liked to be dressed up as Belle – She looked at me as if I had 2 heads. Definitely not your girly dressing up type!
The other celeb is Nikki Grahame from Big Brother. Her ‘Who IS she??’ quote was brilliantly included in the story, not laboured upon but perfect for reminding the adults where we knew her from. She makes a great fairy and really comes into her own in the second half of the performance.
Our family favourite, Simon Foster is natural on stage as Potty Polly. If you are ever thinking of making a trip to a St Helens panto, it is worth it to see Simon’s characters alone.
Another character that is so different to traditional panto stars is Philip McGuinness as Gaston. Whoever thought of those characteristics is genius. Even the Prince/Beast’s role (Richard Hazelwood) didn’t seem as sickly as I feared – One word of warning though, Tara (aged 6) was hiding behind me during the changeover into the beast. Maybe best to keep the very young ones close to you when watching.
I’ve talked before about the scenery and costumes being utterly fantastic and they were again in Beauty & the Beast. The workmanship is incredible and not a trace of reusing old costumes from Christmas.
There was just the right amount of audience participation. As usual, we had a sing off, kids brought up on stage & an unfortunate member of the audience who had to ‘help’. I hadn’t even noticed that the traditional Disney songs weren’t being sung but even that was weaved into the story line as an explanation.
All in all, we thought Beauty & the Beast was brilliant fun. So many laugh out loud parts & great to see the rest of the audience enjoying it too. Looking forward to Christmas 2017 panto!
Beauty & the Beast is on at St Helens, Theatre Royal until April 23rd. Tickets can be bought at 01744 756000 or by visiting http://sthelenstheatreroyal.com/. Images used with permission courtesy of David Munn.