Beauty and The Beast

Date 18th December 2021
Society Song Pantomime and Drama Society (SPADS)
Venue The Broadway Theatre Letchworth
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Annabel Clarke
Musical Director Tom Nichol
Choreographer Annabel Clarke
Written By Josh Clarke and Lewis Clarke

Report

Author: Vicki Avery

Once again Josh and Lewis Clark have brought a well-known Christmas classic, Beauty and the Beast, up to date and put their own twist into the proceedings. 

Directed and choreographed by Annabel Clarke, this modern take on the story was well paced and had all the elements of panto’ that one would expect. Undertaking pantomime in a new venue, on a stage that is unfamiliar, is never an easy task but the company took on the challenge and won. Congratulations. Scene changes were well executed, using the chorus for the most part and the lighting and sound were expertly handled.

Kanyin Jolasho as the evil Zorag was a new element to the story. This young actor seems to enjoy playing “the baddy” and each time I witness his performance I can see a maturity developing that is to his credit. He had a good connection with his audience and the children booed and yelled at him every time he appeared. Good character work here.

Emma Cole and Jordan Clarke were paired together once again as “Pots and Pans”. This couple work very well together and are given equal opportunity to take the lead. A very clever piece of writing. Working the audience was very natural and vocals, in particular, very strong. They always make me smile. Well done.

Katherine Foxworthy was well cast as “Fairy Fantastique”.  The French accent took a while to get used to but on the whole a pleasing performance which never let us foret that the story was set in France. 

Noah Clarke as “Lucien”, Zorag’s minion, played a pivotal role in the action and successfully transferred from the evil side to good without all the usual palaver associated with the baddy’s plans. A very understated and well controlled interpretation. Good work here.

Alan Reily as “Maurice, Beauty’s father” was most convincing as the doddery inventor and I thought his eccentric choice of costume most appropriate. Loved the boots!!

Josh Clarke as “Jack” once again had the audience in the palm of his hand. The children loved his silly antics, and his sense of timing was perfect. We often forget how physically exhausting a role like this can be and every credit must go to Josh as not once did he seem to be lacking in energy or enthusiasm. Congratulations.

Peter Wright as “Dolly the cook”, was another addition to the story which worked. Well known for playing Dame roles, Peter once again had this character simply defined. Giving the audience both young and old, everything that they expect from a Dame. Peter worked his audience well, encouraging audience participation at the right time and instinctively knowing when to pull back on a joke because the performance was a matinee. I would expect nothing less.

Carly Bays was perfect as Beauty. Feisty but caring. Lines was clear and well-paced; and inflection and intonation patterns were on pointe. Vocals were strong and your interpretation of the character was confident and natural. I like your performance very much.

Lewis Clarke as “Beast/ Prince Adam” made the perfect partner for Beauty. Vocals were clear and not at all dramatic, as is often the case with this character. The body language between beast and prince was clearly defined and Lewis looked every part the handsome young prince that we were all hoping for. Transformation achieved!

Staging was somewhat minimalistic, but it worked. I enjoyed Dolly’s kitchen with the working movable shelves and once again it was good timing that was the key.

Choice of music was well chosen and the 4-piece band under the direction of Tom Nichol never played over the soloists. Not easy to gauge when playing in a new venue with minimal rehearsal opportunities. 

The chorus worked hard throughout with clear vocals and excellent choreography. Costumes were colorful and fitted well but one thing niggled me and that was the length of the chorus petticoats. Some hung below the skirts, and some were tucked above the hem. This gave an uneven line and one’s eye was constantly drawn towards them. A small point but remember to check each other before you go on stage.

 

Overall, this was an excellent production in a new venue and John and I enjoyed the afternoon.

Thank you once again for your generous hospitality.