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Beauty and the Beast review at Salisbury Playhouse – ‘handsome, female-led panto’

This year, Salisbury Playhouse’s version of Beauty and the Beast kicks out traditional male hero, sidekick and villain. The Beast of the title – the imposing but not too scary Joseph Black – barely gets a look-in despite his importance to the plot.

Instead, the show is led by Liberty Buckland as the adventurous but kind-hearted Amorette who wins his heart. She is supported by Nerine Skinner, fabulous as her social media-obsessed sister Souffle (think French chic with a Towie twist) and Helen Colby’s malevolent Spite. The gender balance is redressed by Alex Wadham’s pink-clad Cupid and Ralph Bogard’s Monsieur Marzipan.

As Dame Betty Bonbon, Richard Ede is a vision of marshmallow-whipped hair and confection-themed couture, and his patter song of sweet treats is nothing short of a triumph.

The playhouse has set the bar high for its pantomimes in recent years and this one is up there with the best. Nobody puts a foot wrong or gets a sibilant out of place – despite some devilishly tongue-twisting lyrics.

Last year’s award-winning team of writer Andrew Pollard, director Ryan McBryde, designer James Button and musical director Christopher Peake is back, ensuring the gags come thick and fast. The glitter-encrusted set sparkles, custard pies fly, transformations are magical, the singing is tuneful and there are plenty of opportunities for audience participation.

Verdict
Wholesome, handsome female-led panto that ticks all the right boxes

Production

Production
Beauty and the Beast
Venue
Salisbury Playhouse
City
Salisbury
Starts
December 1, 2018
Ends
January 13, 2019
Press night
December 5, 2018
Authors
Andrew Pollard
Director
Ryan McBryde
Musical director
Christopher Peake
Choreographer
Nicky Griffiths
Set
James Button
Lighting
David W Kidd
Sound
Jon Roache
Costume
James Button
Technical
Barny Meats (technical manager)
Stage manager
Rickie Gilgunn (company stage manager)
Production manager
John Titcombe
Cast includes
Richard Ede, Liberty Buckland, Helen Colby, Nerine Skinner, Alex Wadham, Ralph Bogard, Joseph Black, Henry Lawes, Ashley Runeckles
Casting
Ellie Collyer-Bristow
Producer
Wiltshire Creative
Running time
2hrs 35mins