This production adheres faithfully to the traditional fairy tale rather than the Disney version, and as such has many surprises in the narrative.
Among the villagers of Merryvale, Nurse Wanda, an extraordinarily polished performance from James Dinsmore who stepped in at the last minute, works well with balloon wielding Silly Billy, Colin Ridgewell, in bringing alive some tried and trusted panto material.
Kim Taylforth excels as the evil Carabosse who controls the village with her excessive demands and Abby Surgeon proves that radio is not her only talent as Spirit of the Rose, although the Heart FM soundtrack, inventive to start with, rather interrupts the story by the fifth playing.
Although a little dated in its material, the show has some impressive 21st century effects including lasers and a cinema-style sound system that really rocks the theatre. The end of act ballet, a pantomime convention that has largely fallen from grace, makes a timely return and is embraced by the audience. The dancers are especially deserving of praise.
Alistair Richardson’s bad tempered Beast is no match for the elegant and adorable Beauty (Nicola Alexis) – her style and perfect voice complete this accomplished piece. Bad girls and beauties, ballet and beasts.