Beauty and the Beast

Date 19th December 2019
Society In Your Face Theatre (Seaham)
Venue Seaham Town Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Stephen Stokoe
Choreographer Stephanie Peacock


Author: Peter Oliver

The first of District 4’s traditional style pantomimes “O yes it is” and as I made my way to my seat the excitement in the room was electrifying just as a traditional pantomime should be; it was lovely to see that the marketing team had done their job well; as the show was a total sell out and I am pleased to hear that it was the same for each performance, with the venue brimmed to the rafters full of excited children, Mam’s and Dad’s, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles all waiting to join in this Tale as old as Time; as In Your Face Theatre Seaham took us to France for the iconic tale of Beauty and the Beast.

I was so please to read the programme and see that this group had chosen a pantomime written by Tom Whalley, having seen several of his production I know that the audience were in for fantastic evening of entertainment and under the direction of Stephen Stokoe who I have worked with many times in the past; I knew that his creative vision and flair would bring this pantomime to life. Given the limited space in the venue I thought that the production team had done wonders and made best use of the space, the set looked fantastic, lovely cloths thanks to Tynemouth Priory Theatre and the range of props certainly enhanced the performance and made each scene feel more authentic thanks to Sam Mason and the cast. Congratulations to Stephanie Peacock who had the difficult role of putting the cast through their paces and ensuring the choreographed dances and movement was well coordinated and polished. The lighting plot was fantastic thanks to Paul Oliver who is extremely creative and certainly knows how to create the different atmospheres and moods for each scene and Duncan Baxter did a sterling job of ensuring that the sound was audible throughout the production. Well done to Kieran Humphries and Luke Baker as stage managers who ensured that the swift changes were carried out effortlessly never interruption the action carried out on stage, Zoe Cooke did a sterling job with the costumes they all looked fantastic and certainly added colour and created the individual characters and finally thank you to the front of house team who made me feel most welcome; although a little sad that a familiar face was missing this year following the sudden passing of Marion Oliver who was a fundamental member and supporter of the group, sadly missed by all.

The show opened with a prologue setting the scene and the introduction of the characters to the musical number” Mr Blue Sky” an excellent start full of energy and vigour. Steph Crewe delivered an incredible performance as Belle, the audience fell in love with her as soon as she walked on stage, lovely performance from this leading lady which she interpreted well. Playing the Beast and Prince Claude was Ethan Roberts: loved the costume and the transformation was well executed: great stage presence and the duet with Belle “I See The Light” was beautifully delivered.  Stephanie Peacock was excellent as the wicked Sacre Bleu; with her ice-cold heart she captured the essence of all evilness which resulted in an excellent portrayal of the evil witch and certainly had the audience booing in all the right places, vocally I loved her interpretation of the musical number “I Put A Spell On You” which was confidently delivered. in contrast was the beautiful Zoe Cooke as the Spirit of the Mirror whose magic was to win the day over Sacre Bleu evil spell, Zoe exuberates fantastic stage presence and certainly made this character her own, lovely interaction with the other cast members and I enjoyed her musical number “You’ll never Walk Alone”. Playing Belle’s father was Shaun Crosby as Professor Phillippe; a confident performance from Shaun and good delivery of his musical number “Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf”. Playing the cool arrogant and chauvinistic Gaston was Michael Coulson who would have done anything to have Belle’s hand in marriage, confident performance lovely rendition of his musical number “I Am The One And Only” and I loved the partnership with Lefou played by Norma Ord, his one and only loyal and adoring friend, excellent performance by Norma who can turn her hand to any character she plays, excellent performance and such a pleasure to watch. Playing the panto dame character was David Jackson as Nanny Nightnurse and what a performance; David excels in this form of character and had the audience in stitches, he has a natural ability to interact with the audience and certainly maintained his larger than life character, excellent performance for this talent actor, loved the kitchen scene and I certainly wouldn’t want to trifle with Nanny Nightnurse, and his musical number “ “Its Raining Men” was fantastically delivered, playing her dutiful son was Peter Baker as Brie excellent performance from Peter, loved the shopping trolley scene and how he interaction with the audience and with the other cast members, well delivered and entertaining, hope no one took his “crackers”. Playing the enchanted objects who’s costumes were exquisite were Anne Peacock as Sale; the salt cellar, a well delivered and confident performance,  Deborah Taylor-Smith who again delivered a polished performance as Poivre the pepper pot, and I loved her musical number “Don’t Stop Me Now” with the cast, excellent delivery, Irene Smith as Forchette the folk, again a well-rehearsed performance  as the loveable cook extraordinaire; fantastic performance and I loved her  musical number “A Million Dreams” supported by the cast with Belle and the Beast dancing, beautiful scene and finally Orie Coulton- Goodwin as Cuillere the spoon: this young man certainly has talent and the audience fell in love with him; a name to look out for in the future with his natural stage appeal, well done young man on a first class performance.

Playing the part of Gaston’s admirers were Tia Jade Wilkinson as Annette, Rebecca Moore as Babette, Summer Douthwaite as Cosette and Jonathan Ryan as Trevor: whilst cameo roles their contribution was certainly appreciated by the audience and well delivered. In Your Face have a fantastic ensemble all of whom ensured that the production was delivered professionally well done to Sharron Curtis, Kat Crosby, Danny Davis and Corey Bone for their roles as the masquerade ball quests and town folks. Great performances from Leyton Bone as Head Wolf equally supported by Sophia Harrison, Roomy Wilkinson, Aimee Curtis, Maysie Surtees and Kathryn Mitchell as the wolves; it was so nice to see the youth section had been given the opportunity to contribute their skills and talent to this production and finally Sam Mason as Super Gran.

Well done to everyone involved in the production of Beauty and the Beast, a fantastic evening of entertainment for which you should all be very proud off your contribution to this production made this pantomime an overwhelming success congratulations I can’t wait to see you all in your production of The Adams Family in 2020.