Beauty and The Beast Pantomime 2023: Review

Date6th December 2023
SocietyFakenham & District Light Opera Society (FADLOS)
VenueCommunity Centre, Fakenham
Type of ProductionPantomime
DirectorAlex Chidichimo
Musical DirectorJo Kemp
ChoreographerTilly Baron

What better way to start a very cold evening than with a warm welcome and a hot chocolate, thankyou FADLOS.

Beauty and the Beast is known by most as the Disney classic but there are many other versions available, and this Panto version is one of those (Oh yes, it is). We follow Beauty in her quest to escape the unwanted attentions of Zorag who forces her to leave her home and seek refuge in a Castle on the Hill. Here she meets a Beast, who is a cursed prince, and true love blossoms, the curse is broken and all live happily ever after.

Fairy Fantastique, (Jen Hargreaves), looking every bit the good fairy, with vocal clarity and poise. she introduces us to the story until she is interrupted by Zorag, (Andy Grout). Every panto needs someone who wants to rule the world and marry the beautiful girl and the audience enjoyed booing his every entrance.

Then, somewhere in France, we meet the happy village people. Their bright costumes and well-rehearsed dance routines coupled with their strong singing made every number they were in a complete joy. Next, we meet Beauty, (Sarah Chessie), her strong, well controlled singing voice and ease of movement made her a pleasure to watch. Beauty’s Dad, Maurice (Martin Hood), with his crackpot inventions showed us a friendly and loving father character. Into the village square bursts Jack (Tom Bailey), who gets the audience on his side by telling us of his love for Beauty.

If you need someone to strike fear into any men on the front two rows then the person to call is Dolly, Jacks mum (Ben Francis). In the most fabulous and equally outrageous costumes and with his laid back but confident delivery, he went on the search for a new husband using everything he had at his disposal. The audience loved him.

Zorag has an assistant called Lucien (Chloe Regester), what an energy packed performance this was. Her expressive face and an excellent use of physical theatre made this a character you had to watch.

At the Castle we meet The Beast (Jeremy Barker), well portrayed as someone who is waiting for love but has been cursed with this body. Vocally strong and with good acting skill the facets of this character were well displayed. He has two servants who are trying to help him find love Pots (Jackie Overton), showed her experience at playing this type of part, and Pans (Lee Gibbons), who matched her every step of the way. These two worked well together and with good vocals provided some good lighter moments.

The ensemble never eased up, giving it everything right through to the finale. Couple this with the excellent choice of music, the well-conceived choreography and the overall result is a very good Panto. Director, Alex Chidichimo, must have been very pleased with the finished show and the good sized, mid-week, audience certainly showed their approval.

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