Beauty and the Beast

Presented by LHK Productions
Starring Ritchie Neville as Anton, Alison Crawford as Belle, Michael Chapman as Dame Dolly Doughnut
Epstein Theatre, Liverpool
2nd - 12th April 2015

Reviewed by Darren Guy

I would give the pantomime nine out of ten. I thought the performers were excellent. I liked the sets as well as the music.

'My favorite performer was Belle, my second best was Dame Dolly Doughnut, who waa so funny. I would recommend any kids and parents to go.' (Bobbi -aged 9)

‘I looked around the room and every child and many parents were clapping and jumping about in their seats’. (Dad - Darren)

Beauty and the Beast, based of course on the national fairy tale, about the beautiful woman who sacrifices herself for the love of her father by going to live with the beast. Then after a number of trials and tribulations, falls in love with the grotesque ‘Beast’, and by loving him she turns him into a handsome prince. But told in a traditional pantomime fashion (adapted for Liverpool of course), with modern day hit songs.

I must admit, I’m not a big fan of pantomime, but my daughter Bobbi loves it, so I didn’t roll about my seat laughing, like the dozens of other adults (without children) at the ‘Carry on like’ sexual innuendos and double entendres (which luckily went right over my daughter's head).

But I enjoyed the performance; it kept my attention right through. The two and half hours of the show flew by (which is a testament in itself). The dancers were all in step and performed well. The stage backdrop was excellent, and changed without the audience noticing. I also loved the palace steps.

I would have enjoyed the pantomime to have a little more of the story, but hey the show is really for kids and adults who love pantomime.

The beauty of the Epstein Theatre is not only its Victoria-like, musical hallish decor, but the fact that’s it’s a lot more personal. The cast are closer to the audience,and therefore can engage with them more and make them feel a part of the show and help draw the audience in.

I only discovered recently that pantomimes are a uniquely British thing. I suppose the innuendos and slapstick humour fit neatly into our worldly image of reserved repressed characters. Pantomimes, in the traditional sense, make us laugh because they say the things we only dare to say.

If you’ve got kids or you love pantomime, get along to the Epstein. It’s on until the 12th of April, with afternoon and evening performances. They will enjoy the singing, the shouting, the cheering and the booing and, of course, the performance.

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