Director and writer Michael Harrison’s production for Qdos Entertainment harks back to pantomime’s origins in variety.
In the main this comes care of a family trio: Danny Adams – as Danny the castle servant who was out when the Enchantress cast her spell condemning Prince Sebastian (Chris Cowley) to beast-hood; Clive Webb as Belle’s inventor dad Crazy Clive, and Michael Potts, billed as the ‘Castle Idiot.’
Harrison and co-writer Alan McHugh’s skill is to twist the trio’s superbly executed turns – knife throwing, hilarious messy scene, pun-based flag sequence – into the plot, not quite seamlessly, but at least with a degree of logic. Adams and Webb’s added material ensures a seam of local references run through the core of the show.
Given Qdos’ deserved reputation for spectacular Act I closers, Belle and Beast’s wolf scene is underwhelming, even if it does give Laura Evans’ otherwise underwritten Belle the chance to show her talent as she saves Beast’s life by beating off a giant wolf with a big stick. Cowley and Evans do at least have a convincing rapport.
Chris Hayward adds a huge dose of glamour in the dame role of Mrs Rita Potty. With the exception of one acceptable return, Rita wears a different –and equally splendid – costume for every entrance.
Nicola Meehan’s Enchantress, along with Steve Arnott and Reece Sibbald as transformed castle servants, keeps the narrative bowling along. But Baddie Flash Harry (Wayne Smith) is underused, and his demise doesn’t quite make for a suitable contrast to Beast’s redemption. But, these things aside, this remains a hugely successful show with production values to match.