An Imagine Theatre Production
Venue Cymru, Llandudno
December 10-31, 2022; 2 hrs 10 mins
Was this panto a beauty or was it beastly? Well, it's mean to call a pantomime beastly, and to be honest I wouldn't dream of it in this case.
This Beauty and the Beast brings a genuine sense of fun to the Christmas season, with some excellent elements and a cast fully commited to the joy of it all. Striking sets and strong choreography add to the enterprise, as does John Evans as Simon le Bon Bon, his stand-up routine fully engaging the audience.
The show also has plenty of good music and quick-witted banter, looking at times like a variety show with acts arriving, doing their bit and moving off. Some scenes, particularly in the first act, seem to be added for tradition's sake; contrasting considerably with the second act which is altogether funnier and more vital.
Of course this is a story that while very popular, is not completely suited to panto-style presentation. Traditional characters don't fit very well - there are three identifiable villains, for example, Morgan le Fey (the Witch), Barry Island (Belle's arrogant suitor), and a pack of wolves. The Dame character (Jason Marc-Williams) is an obvious addition to the original fairy tale, though thankfully there are no talking items of household furniture.
But this remains a great story for young people, with an important truth: beauty is much more than skin deep.
There are some stand-out performances. Villains Neil Moors and George Lynham are admirably sinister, and James Lusted as Bob has striking stage presence. But it's not wrong to suggest those the show was stolen by the three five year olds who sang Old McDonald had a Farm. As WC Fields once said, never work with children or animals, and the precociousness of the trio certainly proved Fields right.
Full marks to the cast for making the evening so inclusive and enjoyable. It leaves plenty of feelgood factor in its wake and is a warm-hearted start to the Christmas season. Definitely a beauty!
Tickets and Information here