ACT Theatre Reviews 2021-2022

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (The Pantomime) Written by Toby Bradford and Tina Webster Directed by Mark Rosenthal Musical director - Neil Ravenscroft PADOS Theatre Group There is nothing quite like a pantomime for lifting the spirits! Would I class “Beauty and the Beast” as a traditional pantomime? Probably not, but this pantomime, written by Toby Bradford and Tina Webster, and under the direction of Mark Rosenthal, had all the traditional things one would expect to have in one. There were super, up-tempo, modern songs chosen for audience participation and enjoyment. Under the direction of musical director, Neil Ravenscroft, the small in number company really went for it. The chorography from Susan Glover was effective, and in such a small performing space there were creative shapes and forms created by the company. The lighting, by Rob Armstrong, added to the ambience of the production. The scenery and props made and painted by members of the society were colourful and created the scenes, and under the stewardship of the stage manager, Emily Price, any scene changes occurred quickly. Mark Rosenthal drew on his great amateur theatre knowledge to direct a production that moved at pace and did not lull at all. Every pantomime needs a larger than life Dame and that is exactly what we got from Jack Forrest. Here is a performer that knows his audience and can interact with them on different levels so that young and older generations can join in with the humour. He interacted with all the other characters with ease and knew instinctively when to let something run or return to the script and move the show forward. There is usually a comedy stooge, and, in this production, we got two for the price of one, Amelia Newman-Butler and Roxane Burns, as Chardonnay and Lambrini, respectively. They very much reminded me of the Ugly Sisters from Cinderella but as the teasing, man hungry sisters of Belle, they were very engaging. The interaction between the two was superb. I particularly enjoyed the mastery of hover boards. A baddie is required and Lisa Hartley, once again, pulled out all the stops to create the nasty Countess Cruella. Her facial expressions and vocal resonance really establish her characters, but they were a hoot, and everyone enjoyed booing her evilness. As a counterpoint to this, Lucy Michaliszyn was the delightful rhyme-speaking Rose Fairy. Jack Martin, as the larger than life, narcissist Jean Claude, gave a great performance,