Beauty & the Beast
21st January 2018
Library Theatre, Luton
Type of Production
Author: Nova Horley
A thoroughly good all round pantomime, and I was fortunate enough to see two performances, so that I could report on both teams of children.
A very nicely written pantomime tweaked by the Director to bring it slightly more up to date – a good collaboration.
The use of the ball at the beginning to get the audience engaged worked really well, and led into a very good opening number. I liked the children playing behind the dialogue too – rather than just standing around!
The set was good, I understand it was Gary Nash’s last set build, but hope he will still be involved in some way, as experienced set designers are hard to come by.
The lighting, whilst fairly simple, suited the piece, I particularly liked the UV scene of the wolves in the wood.
Musically it was strong, a good choice of songs, and some nice harmonies, numbers kept fairly short and snappy, so that the younger members of the audience didn’t have time to get fidgety! Good to see the band featured in the woodland scene! Get Me to the Church gave the 3 lads a chance to show their prowess, which they did well.
The two teams of children had different strengths, and the adult cast reacted differently, which meant I saw two slightly different productions, both good in their own right. I always love to see children giving so much on stage, completely charming. They all had very lively faces, and it was good to see such a range of ages, they all projected well in both song and speech, and looked really cute in their cutlery and crockery costumes. Some stars of the future there I feel.
Costumes were excellent, well done to Liz Maxen and Izzy Wheeler, no mean feat to make and supply so many costumes – and nicely worn by the cast.
I enjoyed the Act 1 finale and liked the link to Act 2 opening.
The transformation of the Beast worked really well, always interesting to see different takes on this. The rose also stood out, nice to have it as part of the set and not at the front of the stage as so often happens.
The Cardigan Girls (Bethany Ridout, Jessica–Ann Hewitt & Freya Spratley) were very good, creating contrasting characters, they interacted well, and kept their characters going all the time, I really enjoyed their performances.
The adult ensemble were lively and energetic, and performed well.
Daniel Hayward (Arrogant) was impressive, for someone so young he commanded the stage, sang extremely well, and gave a super performance as the villain. He interacted nicely with the audience and showed good range and power in his vocal skills. My Name was particularly impressive.
Daniel was ably assisted by Le Peu (Nico Bamford) his hilarious sidekick. Nico threw himself into this comedy role with great abandon and effectiveness. I enjoyed his performance very much.
Bethany McLeish was a charming Belle, she looked lovely, but I felt there could have been a little more empathy between her and her father and also the Beast. That said I really enjoyed her duets with the Beast.
Luke Murphy as the misunderstood Beast gave a very good performance, and was very strong in the rendering of his numbers, I was impressed. He helped create a very sympathetic pairing with Belle.
Cogsy and Lumsy (Laurence Sims and Carl Connelly) were good foils to each other and the rest of the cast. Cogsy was very serious and upright, with Carl adding comic value in spades. Perhaps slightly over the top at times, but this was panto....!
Paul Rogers (Mme Tetley) gave us a very nice performance, showing care for the Beast, but acknowledging her position in the household. I liked his costume and enjoyed his portrayal.
Matt Collins (Simon) gave us a great fun upbeat performance, interacting well with the audience, and the rest of the cast.
Martin Pursey (the Professor) showed his gentle and slightly bumbling side, in a caring portrayal, a very nice character performance.
Olivia Lynn and Robyn Noble played the Professor’s invention Alexa, both were good, but very different.
I thoroughly enjoyed the production, excellent on all fronts, the production team did a really good job too – congratulations to everyone.