dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Beauty and the Beast review at Derby Arena – ‘a fine and strong-voiced cast’

Nathan Turner and Louise Olley in Beauty and the Beast at Derby Arena. Photo: Robert Day Nathan Turner and Louise Olley in Beauty and the Beast at Derby Arena. Photo: Robert Day

Panto has finally found its feet in the vast and challenging space of Derby Arena. Derby LIVE has brought in the thoroughly experienced and locally based Little Wolf Entertainment, used a live band (“the only working pit in the Midlands”) and made the scale of the place work with them rather than against them.

The Arena is a velodrome. So the writer, Morgan Brind, introduces some cycling and opens his Beauty tale at the close of the Tour de France, with the obnoxious Gaston (Aston Dobson) the strutting victor. Brind himself as Betty Brioche is a magnificent Dame, as dotty as they come, inventively costumed and commanding the stage throughout.

It’s a fine and strong-voiced cast altogether, with Derby’s own Gwen Taylor as the wicked Enchantress, Ben Faulks as an endearing Idle Jacques and Louise Olley as a sweet but never saccharine Belle. Nathan Turner’s Prince Philippe gets to fly for a breathtaking transformation scene.

The set is a glittering fairy-tale castle on the revolve, there are spectral dancing gargoyles, squirty cream for slapstick, and an unflagging stream of good jokes. Best of all, this is an audience being inducted into the ways of panto. It’s lovely to see.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Warm-hearted and lavish panto, meeting all the challenges of a big space 
^