Writer: Liam Mellor
Director: Chantelle Nolan
Despite this not being the originally advertised production of Cinderella (changed due to COVID-19 restrictions), Beauty & the Beast ticks all the boxes that you could want from a pantomime at Christmas.
It is a rarity that you find a cast in pantomime that are uniformly excellent, usually, the supporting company tends to carry the weight of the star name – but here in St Helens where no star name adorns the bill, the cast fire on all cylinders ensuring a hilarious night of pantomime is afforded to those that adorn the covid safe venue.
Those expecting a traditional re-telling of the famous fairy-tale may be forgiven if they feel a little displaced, while the essential elements are all here, Liam Mellor’s hilarious script and Chantelle Nolan’s energetic production shake up the tale and provide more than a few surprises – including what may be the best version of The 12 Days of Christmas this reviewer has ever seen and a brilliant take on the Ghost Bench.
Our titular characters are played with fresh abandon as Olivia Sloyan (Belle) and Andrew Geater spread their joyous abandon on the stage. Jenna Sian O’Hara gives a Fairy Rose that is full-on northern and it’s even more entertaining because of it. Abigail Middleton relishes every moment on stage as she dons the evil cape of Madame Botox. This year however the show is stolen by a trio of hilarious performances; Jamie Greer as Potty Polly has a very short fuse and the speed at which she boils is fantastic. Scott Gallagher is extremely funny as French Frank the Royal Covid Safety Officer – he certainly wins the award for most absurd face mask of 2020. This year however the show is firmly stolen by Tim Lucas whose self-obsessed portrayal of Gaston is nothing short of sublime.
Filled with lots of songs with some very topical references, excellent choreography with a full ensemble choreographed by Nazene Langfield, pacey direction, witty writing and a first-class cast, its quite possible that Beauty & The Beast is one of the best pantomimes Regal Entertainment have presented in a long time.
Runs until 3 January 2021