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Date: April 1 2017
Location: St. Helens Theatre Royal
Beauty and The Beast is all the rage right now, given the recent cinematic release of the newest Disney adaptation, and so it's very good timing to see a good old-fashioned pantomime version of the classic tale for the Easter season.
The St. Helens crowd was treated to plenty of comedy capers with this Beauty and The Beast performance. Belle (Amy Thompson) rejects the advances of Gaston (Philip McGuinness), who is supported by his evil mother Madame Botox (Hannah Potts), and instead wishes to fall in love with the handsome Prince (Richard Hazlewood). However, the wicked Madame Botox uses poison to turn the Prince into a Beast, who becomes a hideous and terrifying creature.
Nevertheless, this doesn't stop Belle who, with support from French Frank (Liam Mellor) and Potty Polly (Simon Foster), manages to enjoy food and a dance with the Beast/Prince, appreciating him for what he is on the inside rather than on the outside. But there remains questions as to whether Belle and the Beast can truly fall in love, especially with Gaston and Madame Botox lurking around; fortunately, Fairy Rose (Nikki Grahame) is on hand to provide a helping hand to the good guys when needed.
The show is a lot of fun, delivering a lot of laughs from the one-liners by Frank to the amusing audience interaction scenes to the general silliness of certain moments throughout the story. The settings were very good, and the costumes are excellent, especially for Belle, the Beast and Fairy Rose; their attires perfectly match what audience-goers would expect from this retelling of a classic tale.
There are plenty of songs during the show, some of which are slightly modified versions of current chart hits to tie in with the story, whilst others are panto favourites played purely for laughs (such as Frank's "One smart fella, he felt smart" tune towards the end). I felt that the show was a little on the short side, with things wrapping up inside two hours, but amongst the young children and also the adults on hand, the show couldn't have been much better, and to them the running time seemed to be just right.
Easter pantos are becoming more and more prominent, so there's a decent chance that you'll find yourself heading to one this year. If you do, Beauty and The Beast at St. Helens Theatre Royal is one of the best options you could find, delivering all the fun and frolics that one would expect from a classic pantomime.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 - Excellent