Panto is back up and down the country, and in Worthing it’s back with a bang! Beauty and the Beast is a rip roaring romp through the classic fairy tale with a great dose of panto tradition thrown in for good measure. This was our third panto outing with our two children but they’re already familiar with the ‘oh no it isn’ts’ and (very) enthusiastic booing of the baddy.
Whilst not exactly familiar names in our household, the casting is spot on for Beauty and the Beast. Emmerdale’s Sapphire Elia makes a great heroine with the perfect amount of Belle gumption and kind hearted honesty. Her voice is superb, without being too stage schooly, and matching the power of Jai McDowell. The Britain’s Got Talent star hasn’t lost any of his star quality, and gives everything to his solo and group numbers. He’s also very convincing as the Beast / Count of Monte Don (no relation to the gardener 😀). Strictly’s Robin Windsor completes the title cast as a roguish Gaston, more in the slightly camp original cartoon vein than Luke Evans’ later version. With plenty of fast footwork and Gaston charm, he’s not the worst baddy in Panto land but it still works well.
As with her previous role as the Fairy Godmother, the singing comedy whirlwind that is Katie Pritchard stole the show for me. Starring as half of the comedy double act this time around, Crepe Suzette still had the opportunity to belt out a solo and charm us all with super glue on her head.
Andre Vincent as Dame Cheri Trifle was also fantastic, with the perfect amount of family oriented silliness and topical jokes thrown in. For us, he was much more than a supporting character.
The show follows the classic story that will be familiar to many, but with panto interludes thrown in. There’s a great singing round, featuring footballs and snooker cues, and the classic ‘where’s the ghost’ sketch, which may be a little scary for the youngest in the audience. Even with pandemic restrictions, there’s an opportunity for audience participation at the end too, and no worrying about tripping up the stairs to the stage!
There are two 60 minute acts, with a 20 minute interval but the time flew by, especially in the second act. The bar is open before the show starts and during the interval, and there are also refreshment stands inside the auditorium. The seats have been replaced, and are much more comfy than before plus more leg room! Children are likely to need a booster seat but there are plenty available as you go in.
Beauty and the Beast is a classic panto, thankfully updated to get rid of the politically incorrect bits but without losing any of the old school charm. It’s genuinely a lovely family night out, however old you are, and you can’t help but be swept along by the panto magic ❤️
*We were gifted tickets to Beauty and the Beast in exchange for an unbiased review.