Children dressed as jammy dodgers and candelabras might give a nod to Disney, but this beauty of a production captures the true magic of panto.
Beauty And The Beast tells the story of the Prince (Ben Richards) who falls victim to a spell from the evil Deadly Nightshade (Natalie Spriggs) turning him into a horrifying beast. Casting a spell on a rose she warns the Prince that the curse will never lift unless he learns to love another, and earn their love in return before the last petal falls.
Staying mainly faithful to the storyline but with a healthy dose of double entendres, local referrences, supurb comic timing and silliness it has all the elements of a classic panto – the brash dame, the pretty heroine and her dozy sidekick, an upbeat soundtrack and, of course, the picked-upon fella in the front row, but it also has something extra, aside from a cast who appear to be enjoying it as much as we are, it has brought bang up to date with a pretty scary kracken that hovers over the audience and 3D effects so amazing you’ll find yourself ducking to avoid evil spiders and all manner of scary creatures that appear to be heading straight for your seat.
The cast are a talented bunch. Naomi Slights, who plays Belle, enchants with the strongest vocal performance. Ben Nickless makes a welcome return to Nottingham as her sidekick Benny Blumenthal. holding the show together he proves why he’s still one of the funniest performers in panto. His partner in comedy crime is the actor and also Director of the production Andrew Ryan as Dame Betty Blumenthal. On devilish form, the pair link the scenes with hilarious routines. Danny Bayne has just the right amount of wit, arrogance and good looks as Trent Bridge.
Our star of the show is the wonderful Benidorm actress and Loose Lady Sherrie Hewson as Mrs Potts-Temple-Savage, who only has to be herself to captivate the audience. There are a couple of scenes such as the tongue twister and the ‘Before I worked for the Prince’ number, which you know are going to get funnier and funnier as the season progresses.