Beauty and the Beast

Date 15th February 2024
Society Dodleston Youth Players
Venue Dodleston Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Sue Ramsey
Musical Director Mary Brierely
Choreographer Joanne Robertson& Sue Ramsey
Producer Sue Ramsey
Written By Dawn Cairns


Author: Joanne Rymer

Beauty & the Beast

Dodleston Players



It is always a joy to be invited to the annual Dodleston Youth Pantomime, a true community event performed in the local village hall. A full house all anticipating the start of this year’s Pantomime Beauty and the Beast. The audience consists of mums and dads, grandma and granddads, siblings, friends, Brownies all gathered to have a fun evening. That is just what we all experienced.

Right from the off the stage sparkled with energy and joviality, as the young cast belted out fabulous song and dance numbers. It is heart-warming to see young talent, I could see huge grins on their faces enjoying every minute. Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of a young woman Belle and the Beast /Prince under a spell.  The spell itself is simple enough, the young Prince is cursed by a wicked witch and takes on the appearance of a beast whose only hope of breaking the spell is to earn the love of a young woman. Now this pantomime has been adapted by Dawn Cairns so may not follow the story to the letter, this is a Dodleston panto after all!!

 We are introduced to Prince Handsome (Eden Mullholland) a very arrogant and condescending young man; who upsets the cleverly disguised wicked witch Grizelda (Karen Rowlands) who decides the prince needs a stark lesson. The curse is set, he becomes the Beast retreating to his dark and dismal castle in the woods. Now we all love a Pantomime villain, Karen Rowlands was hysterical as Grizelda, her unique interpretation gave a truly comedic edge to the role. She has great stage presence, so comfortable using the third wall to splendid affect, the audience loved her. The booing and hissing on her every appearance were hysterical. Superb performance. Also in  the mix of the story appears Silas Snivel (Karen Walsh) and Sidney Snide (Joanne Robertson) dressed in brown overall, cap and outrageous black moustaches, they seek people Grimelza has frozen, then turn them into statues to sell. Two fine performances by Dodleston favourites.

Belle (Evie McDonald) lives with her father Gerard (Mike Dix) a merchant, and her two step sisters Simples and Dimples who treat her as a house servant. Her supportive friend in the household is Jimmy Riddle (Lily Harrod) lovely engaging performance.  Now the pantomime Dame is a traditional role in British pantomime, the must haves: look dazzling in a dress, marvellous over the top make-up, fluttery lashes and exaggerated ``lipstick, elaborate head wear a sense of humour which is cheeky and fuelled with saucy innuendos, Dodleston has two!  Bella’s step sisters Simples (Glen Mullholland) Dimples (Gorden Robertson), both at the centre of the comedy encouraging audience participation to keep everyone laughing.  We all laughed with them from start to finish.

The Beast is very lonely in his large castle, his only companions Mr Bones a Dog (Anna Halsall) his butler, and his incompetent cook Mrs Stodge (Gabrielle Phillips) and a cat called Catastrophe (Ben Moss) who chases the rat (Connie Barnett), Tom (Olivia McDonald) and Bob (Seraphima Sutton). He has a magic mirror with attitude Tarquin (Maddy Gandy). Lovely performances from these talented actors. A special mention to Maddy who gave an excellent comedic performance, she was so funny.

Gerard goes off to collect his merchandize from the ship, after asking his three daughters’ what gifts they would like him to bring home. Dimples and Simples want expensive clothes etc, while Belle asks for a single Rose (brought to life beautifully by Amelia McConnell) and for him to come home safely.

Producer and Director Sue Ramsey obviously had her plan for this panto, she executed it with great style. The atmosphere created was contagious, what this society achieve with the limitations of the available space is astonishing. The lighting and sound did exactly what it said on the tin and was very effective, thanks to Richard Hulmston (lighting) Richard Kitchen (sound & Special effects) great job. Costumes were fabulous thanks to Elaine Porter, Margaret Lloyd & Claire Gandy. Grimelza in Grimly Wood was a particular special scene, the young cast representing trees etc looked wonderful.  Loved the one or two stragglers, hilarious.  Well done. The song and dance routines well timed and executed, which is no mean fete on the limited space on stage. Praise goes to Choreographers Sue Ramsey and Joanne Robertson, well done to Mary Brierly for inspiring musical direction. Great job by all. Now there is an additional cast member I have not yet introduced, under Guest Appearances is the splendid Denise Ward.  Strategically popping up to cover essential stage changes throughput the show, dressed in relevant costume Denise performs a single song from an assortment of pantos. The sound man loudly interrupts informing her that she is in the wrong year!! and the wrong panto. She was fantastic, finishing with a Pam Ayres poem ‘Nobody Loves a Fairy when she’s Old’ standing ovation, very well deserved. Well conceived imaginative addition to the flow of scene changes, inspirational.

The story continues, as Gerard ‘s finds the ship has been wrecked and his merchandize lost. On his return home he gets lost in Grimly Woods, the Beast offers him food and a bed for the evening. Plucking a rose from the castle garden for Belle, Gerard returns home. Belle comments that anyone who could grow such a pretty rose cannot be all bad, taking her father’s place returns to the castle to look after the unhappy Beast. Now as we all know all Panto’s have to have a happy ending, its compulsory, this is no exception. Belle grows to love the Beast, and he her, so true love lifts the curse and a royal wedding is planned.

Dodleston’s Beauty and the Beast is exactly what a panto should be good clean fun, with plenty of opportunities to practice your “oh no he didn’t” and “he’s behind you” skills, with lots and lots of laughs, exactly what good community theatre should be. a great evening's entertainment from an extremely popular society that is undoubtedly giving a great many people a great deal of enjoyment, on both sides of the curtain.

Thank you for a wonderful evening’s fun, it is always a joy to come to a Dodleston production, I look forward to seeing you all again next year.


Joanne Rymer


District 4