Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

“THE SPELLBINDING PANTOMIME”

Beauty and the Beast

Qdos Entertainment , New Theatre Cardiff , December-11-18
Beauty and the Beast by Qdos Entertainment The New Theatre orchestra under the fine direction of Mike Morwood gets things off to a great start belting out the opening music and raising the expectations of this largely young full house. Right from the start the handsome Prince Sebastian, the handsome Ben Richards and his love Belle given a performance of great delight by Naomi Slights, seem to be getting along very well.

This is quickly upset with the appearance of the lady baddy entering from stage left in a cloud of smoke, Deadly Night Shade who, despite loud and enthusiastic booing from the audience casts her nasty spell. Bang! No more handsome prince instead Richards is transformed into a very horrible looking beast. Stephanie Webber strikes a very nasty degree of nastiness as she sets the story, excellently scripted by Alan McHugh, off on its magical course.

There’s some very lively magic from every performer in this top class cast. Lisa Riley, playing Mrs Potts, is a real bundle of fun and laughter, and with her huge smile is determined to see we all have a fantastic time. There’s another ‘lady’ who is also going to make sure we have lots of fun. The return of one of South Wales’ favourite entertainers, Mike Doyle. He is a very clever actor. His Kylie Kipling is an outstanding Dame, rolling the fun along all through the show despite her sidekick son, the one weakness in the show, Calvin Kipling. Edward Rowe just can’t quite find it, sadly. But there’s so much hilarity going on that it hardly notices.

This show has two ‘nasties’. We meet Clarence Bridge (a local ‘Tiger Bay reference). We certainly don’t like this character at all, played with spot-on nastiness by Danny Bayne and we definitely don’t want him stealing Belle away. He’d be better off taking instructions from his personal trainer, Alfie. This is only former rugby international Gareth Thomas’ third pantomime appearance. Now, as in his sporting days he has made himself a master of stagecraft and comedy and is a joy to watch.

The attempts to bring Prince Sebastian back from the beast continually fail thwarted by Deadly Nightshade who is now booing back the very loud booing from this very enthusiastic young audience.

In between all the shouting and booing there are some highly hilarious comedy sketches lead by Mike Doyle, who also has great fun with some lively child volunteers from the audience.

We’re nearing the interval and not progress has been made in rescuing the prince but now there’s yet another baddie, the monstrous Kraken. His alarming appearance is down to the fantastic stage machinery built into the fabric of the theatre when it was built 112 years ago. Off to gobble up my ice cream, can’t wait to get back.

Second half: More comedy and delight, more wonderful dancing from this wonderful ensemble and from Cardiff’s Lorri Guppy School of Dance who have been welcome regulars at the New Theatre pantomimes for a few years now.

Of course it all ends happy ever after, Belle, our beauty, and the Prince are finally married and these sparkling, delightful entertainers take their bow in some of the most sparkling costumes you could wish for and the packed feel-good audience rise to their feet, there’s no other way to show appreciation for this early Christmas present.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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