Beauty and the Beast the Panto

Date 22nd November 2019
Society Harlequin Eastwood Theatre For Youth
Venue Eastwood Park Theatre
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Alasdair Hawthorn
Musical Director Karen McKay (Assistant MD Ewan Pringle)
Choreographer Sarah McLaughlin
Producer Hannah Muir


Author: Craig Inglis

This lively Harlequin pantomime did not disappoint an eager and full audience.  Writer Alan McHugh’s extremely funny and clever script was genius, with the production team of Alasdair, Karen, Ewan, Sarah and Hannah delivered it with great success.  The French village of Grand Derriere, located within Pantoland, was bursting with larger than life characters and villagers who kept the energy alive throughout this fun-filled panto.  The story follows the Marquis (who latterly becomes The Beast) played confidently by Emile Sibile, as he tries to find true love to break the curse placed on him.  Emile showed strong characterisation to present all sides of this character very well and gave a resolute performance.  Helping him realise that true beauty lies within was Abbie Aziz as a delightful and spirited Belle.  Abbie brought a strength to this panto leading lady which was superb and proved she was a worthy match for Emile’s Beast.  Helping The Beast run his castle were his sibling servants Michel and Michelle, played by Matthew King and Heather Williams.  Both brought great levels of humour to their characters and worked exceptionally well together.  Heather in particular was very funny with Michelle’s determined fight against the mushiness of falling in love, but eventually succumbed to the charms of Marcel.  Marcel, the son of the baddie Madame De Testable, was captured fantastically by Paul Cameron.  The audience was rooting for him throughout as he was commanded about by his overbearing mother and were delighted when he helped save the day.  The baddie of the panto, Madam De Testable was just an exceptional performance by Sophie Aziz.  She commanded the stage, worked the audience and gave us nastiness and humour all wrapped up in the one package.  Her comic timing and vocals in solo numbers were brilliant, with the lip-sync mash-up a perfect combination of both things.  She executed this faultlessly and had the audience in tears of laughter, deserving the impressive reaction.  Everytime she left the stage saying “I hate you all” got a lot of boo’s from the audience but kept making me chuckle as well with her French accent a delight.  A huge well done to Sophie on this excellent role.  Bringing more humour to the story was Aimee Mejury as Belle’s friend Bibi.  Aimee’s bright and bubbly personality beamed form the stage as she led the bigger ensemble numbers with excellent vocals and dancing.  Her comedy timing and work with the audience was great and she brought a lot of happiness to the part.  Helping Bibi with the comedy was Iain Shearer as her mum Bette Bouffant.  No panto is complete without a dame and Iain did not disappoint in this role.  Using strong physical characterisation, a deep voice and excellent comic timing resulted in a great performance which seemed to come to Iain with ease.  Aimee and Iain worked exceptionally well together and kept the energy alive during the story.  The principal line up were supported by a brilliant ensemble of Junior and Senior players, all of whom displayed impeccable choreography,  booming vocals and an infectious liveliness.  It was clear that each and every member of the cast and ensemble were enjoying every moment on the stage, and having fun which is just a lovely thing to see from a youth theatre production.  A huge well done to the full team at Harlequin on another successful panto.