Beauty and the Beast: A Bollywood Panto
26th January 2018
Ellesmere Community Centre
Type of Production
Jess Bendon, Lauren Stevens, Alex Ager & Joanna Charlesworth
Author: Julie Petrucci
This year’s offering from Ellesmere Devils was certainly different. Beauty and the Beast given the Bollywood treatment by writer and Director Joanna Charlesworth.
This society’s ‘home’ is the local sports centre and a huge amount of time and effort goes into transforming the sports hall into a theatre auditorium. Seemingly the whole society membership pitch in to work on this creation as that is exactly what it is. Unfortunately they have to return it to a sports hall at the end of the run. Congratulations to all involved in this Herculean effort.
Starting with a warm welcome from the programme seller and box office people the evening had a friendly community atmosphere. Director Joanna Charlesworth told me what fun rehearsals had been which included Friday curry nights. I can imagine everyone sneaking off with a menu to choose their Bollywood names which were all very clever.
The script which was quite imaginative - loved the Present of a Pheasant scene - only payed lip-service to the usual Beauty and the Beast story but was filled with colour, song, dance and the usual corny panto jokes. The drawback I think was that it was overlong. Also there was a break with panto tradition in that the “baddie” came on stage right and “goodie” stage left. Right (i.e Good) is always right in panto!
The backcloths and other scenery were excellent particularly the glittery Ballroom in the Beast’s castle. Costumes were beautifully colourful and the make-up, especially for The Beast and Vindaloo, splendid. Given the facilities the lighting was good apart from once or twice when the follow spot forgot to follow. The sound was all recorded which inevitably created a pause between dialogue and the music coming in.
The chorus in panto is as important as the principals and I have to say this was a very good chorus with some fine voices. All the songs were well done and the dancing was lovely.
Fairy Rose beautifully played by Samantha Hancock lived up to her name and Sandie Wilson as the Evil Vindaloo looked splendid.
Poppa Dom (Simon Park) had his hands full with one beautiful daughter, aptly named Priti, nicely played by Amy Metcalf and two ugly daughters, Lobelia and Hydrangea played by Richard Fisher and Alex Ager. Of course they were on the trawl for men whom they found in Crispin and Roderick a posh comedy duo played by Jess Benson and Ali Swain respectively and some enthusiastic chasing occurred.
Mick Peacock’s Beast was first-rate and he looked brilliant. Costume and make-up definitely maketh the Beast in this show. Tess Garner as Sam Osa the Beast’s servant had a lovely way with her and she worked the audience with one hand tied behind her back - or inside a Myna Bird to be precise. Olly Clarke “topped and tailed” the show as the Prince and added his voice to the chorus in between.
Two performances for me were outstanding. One who never said a word but who was totally mesmerising was Lauren Stevens as Mick the Peacock. Her movement and reactions throughout were superb. A lovely performance. The other was the third “Dame” Matthew Attwood as Balan Singh. His energetic stage presence and interaction with the audience was excellent. I foresee as long panto Dame career for this young man.
To summarise, this was a well rehearsed production with excellent scenery, choreography and make-up. The enthusiasm of all involved was tangible.
Well done Ellesmere Devils all your efforts were totally worthwhile.