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Beauty and the Beast review at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry – ‘sparkling’

Charlie Bowyer and Jessica Niles in Beauty and the Beast at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Photo: Robert Day Charlie Bowyer and Jessica Niles in Beauty and the Beast at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Photo: Robert Day

Iain Lauchlan returns to Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre as writer, director and Dame Clarabelle Crumble in this festive favourite.

And he’s a dame to cherish. Waddling around in extravagant costumes ranging from a cocktail and a cake to the Eiffel Tower, screeching at the top of his voice and chuckling at his own jokes, Lauchlan is just classic panto.

He is given able support by Craig Hollingsworth, now a regular at the Belgrade panto, as Clarabelle’s son Willy (cue lots of sniggers). He’s so daft that the audience can’t help but love him.

There’s a spirited performance from Andrew Gordon Watkins who caricatures the super-ego Maurice, the man who every woman should love, and Jessica Niles is suitably heart-warming as Beauty.

This is panto with all the usual trimmings, from the audience participation to the cute children on stage, lots of double entendres and a smattering of song and dance numbers. But there are also a few surprises – not least a giant beastie dancing to Uptown Funk.

Designed by Mark Walters, the set is colourful, sparkling and versatile, taking us from the village to the forest to the Beast’s palace with ease. It makes for the perfect backdrop to this crowd-pleaser.

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Classic panto with a touch of sparkle and a few surprises that will appeal to people of all ages