Beauty & The Beast

Date 17th November 2021
Society South Manchester AOS
Venue Z Arts
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Antonia Whitehead
Musical Director James Goodwin
Choreographer Jenny Tait

Report

Author: Liz Hume-Dawson

South Manchester’s Beauty & The Beast gives you traditional pantomime with sweets for the audience, good and evil, water pistols (yes, I got wet!) and topical references with a 2021 romantic upgrade. #onpoin

Kevin Proctor’s Script moves on a pace with references that the audience can laugh along with.

A new team featuring Director Antonia Whitehead takes us on a journey with some modern updates. A starting point of great casting in all parts helps this show glide along. Also new to the team is choreographer Jenny Tait and she definitely makes her mark. I always find if you accommodate all in the cast and try not to be too tricksy it can look so impressive as it did, the numbers certainly had impact.

Musical Director was James Goodwin and the harmonisation was pleasantly apparent with some fantastic voices - some great song choices too!

Costume looked fabulous and the purple and gold at the end was divine. Just nit-picky but for the Prince’s coronation it would have been good to have seen the outfits upgraded - but I get that maybe what you wanted was the impact of the stunning costume for the finale. Make up by Tom Farnworth was just right and Elvira Laquelle’s lipstick was to die for.

It was the first night but I felt some late cues in lighting left some principals momentarily in the dark- I am sure this will be ironed out as the week runs.

Chloe Ireson as Rosebud the good fairy eager to help out and outwit evil had lovely presence with fairy like gestures and warmth towards the audience.

Richard Ross as Elvira Laquelle was suitably evil and looked absolutely stunning, he related well with the audience, I do feel he could have pushed the evil even more. Richard’s song Queen of the Night was well performed but I do wonder if he should have been accompanied by some backing dancers who would have added so much as they did to every scene.

Tom Guest as Pierre A’Pants and Rebekah Davies worked well together, and A Million Love Songs was brilliant and well-staged. I loved Rebekah’s purple hair and she gave me hints of Catherine Tate – in a good way - in her performance.

Jake Ridgeway as Prince Theo/Beast was well cast as principal boy and his voice was excellent making each song his own.

Abbie Venables as Belle: I thought Disney would love her a new kind of principal girl who knows her own mind and quirky - very 2021 - a principal girl with a personality -  who would have thought it? It was so refreshing to see. Loved her characterisation of Belle. Formidable!

Alex Re as Gaston, where do I start?!. . .I would never think that Gaston would be so hilarious and likeable in a strange/smarmy way. I have never seen so much hip thrusting and strutting in my life commanding the whole of the stage - Tres Bien!

Kallum Edwards as Louie again well cast and suitable foil for Gaston - great number with chorus I’m Not A Loser from Sponge Bob Square Pants The Musical – sure the kids will especially love this!

Laura Aremia as Shel and Stephanie Niland as Mel – Belle’s sisters and the comedy duo certainly kept the pace up with attack and joie de vivre. I keep saying great casting but it is the key and it worked perfectly in this case.

Kevin Proctor as Lottie La Grande gave a stellar performance as the dame. If there was to be a school of dames they would have a day out to watch Kevin’s craft. Dealing with the audience, one liners, innuendos, singing, dancing and characterisation. I’m in awe. Loved U K Hun and Lottie La Grande reminded me of Eric Morecambe meets Kitty Scott-Claus Season 3 #dragraceuk

A thoroughly enjoyable night and it was lovely to see South Manchester back on the stage and loving every minute of it and working together so well - it was plain to see the audience thought so too.

Merci Beaucoup for the invite and hospitality my hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed.