BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
Theatre Royal: Tkts 0115 989 5555 www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk.
Runs: 2h 10m: one interval: till 14th Jan.
Performance times: Varies, 1.30pm, 2.30pm, 7.15pm (check with box office).
Audio Described: 2.30pm 16th Dec and 1.30pm 7th Jan.
Sign Language Interpreted: 1.30pm 14th Dec, 1.30pm 17th Dec, 7.15pm 12th Jan.
Captioned Performance: 2.30pm 6th Jan.
Relaxed Performance: 1.30pm and 7.15pm 10th Jan.
Review: Alan Geary: 10th December 2017.
Go and see this, but be on hand to cover the children’s ears when necessary.
Beauty and the Beast is only occasionally performed as a pantomime. Perhaps one reason is that as a story it’s too dark. But the same goes for a lot of panto subjects – most of them are packed with beheadings, poisonings, kidnapping and the like. The main problem is that the shape of its particular plot and range of characters are a bad fit for panto’s traditional mix.
Before the action started a lot of back story had to be narrated by a disembodied voice, and even then it was initially difficult to work out who was who and what precisely was going on.
But there was some undeniably slick song and dance, right from a cracking opening number from Belle (Naomi Slights) and the dancers through to the happy end. And costumes were truly magnificent. So of course were the 3-D effects when it came to the Kraken.
As Benny, Ben Nickless with that downbeat scouse accent was for most of the time hilarious. A pity then that for the kiddies some of the material he and others had to work with was not just near the mark but well over it. What’s more, after too much of the stuff, it wasn’t that funny.
But he was in one ace turn after the other, including the classic mirror routine with Dame Betty (Andrew Ryan), which would have been better with the music turned down – a downside of the whole evening was that music was generally too loud to hear voice and lyrics properly.
Ryan as Dame Betty was the clear star of the show. It wasn’t simply his material: it was the ease with which he held the whole thing together, relating to the audience in a relaxed and authentic way.
Benny Bayne’s Trent (Bridge) was a lovely tongue in cheek self-send-up. He did a terrific Kill the Beast routine with his followers. A pity that Natalie Spriggs’s Deadly Nightshade (the baddie) was too engagingly lovely to generate her proper quota of boos.
It was genuinely touching and morally uplifting when Belle finally fell in love with the Beast (a splendid Ben Richards). And his fine voice went well with Belle’s in their final duet.
Go and see this one, but be on hand to cover the children’s ears when necessary.
Mrs Potts-Temple-Savage: Sherrie Hewson.
The Beast/Prince Sebastian: Ben Richards.
Benny Blumenthal: Ben Nickless.
Dame Betty Blumenthal: Andrew Ryan.
Trent Bridge: Danny Bayne.
Belle: Naomi Slights.
Deadly Nightshade: Natalie Spriggs.
Ensemble: Mason Boyce, Grace Cinque-White, Harrison Dowzell, Curtisha Kruythoff, Aislinn Oakley, Matt Pethers, Hannah Rose and Alfie Williams.
Babes: The Theatre Royal Babes.
Director: Andrew Ryan.
Lighting Designer: Tim Oliver.
Sound Designer: Justin Teasdale:
Musical Supervisor: Olly Ashmore.
Choreographer: Christian Storm.