“Could be the best panto Blackpool has seen for years.”
Beauty and the Beast, Blackpool Grand Theatre
The trees and lights seem to go up earlier every year, with only Bonfire Night and Halloween keeping them from popping up in early November. But it’s never really Christmas until panto season gets under way. And if inflatable snowmen sat on muddy lawns surrounded by puddles and blown over wheelie bins don’t quite fill you with festive spirit, Beauty and the Beast at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre certainly will.
Running until January 6, this telling of the iconic fairy tale stars Eastenders actor Danny Walters as the Beast, resort favourite Steve Royle as Louis La Plonk, and stage star Amelia Adams-Pearce. Joining them is a talented cast of Gazette columnist Hayley Kay as Fairy Bon Bon, Nick Wilton as Polly La Plonk, Ben Harlow as Hugo Pompidou, and acting veteran Marcus Knibbs as Clement.
Set in France, the three-hour show is filled with pop culture references; adaptations of modern songs, including ear-worm Baby Shark; and quips aplenty. A few jokes were missed by some, or felt a little inappropriate in 2018, like “My best friend is a fairy... well I’m a modern type of guy,” but most were both topical and funny - including jabs at the Brexit mess and the resort’s ongoing traffic woes.
While the ever-dazzling brilliance of Steve Royle continues to cast a huge shadow, the talent of Danny Walters, who wowed with his incredible singing voice, and the acting ability of Marcus Knibbs, saw them stand out as stars that shone just as brightly to the benefit of the whole production.
Nick Wilton’s Polly was both cheeky and ballsy (sorry, I couldn’t help it), and Hayley Kay retained her usual delightful stage presence. Ben Harlow played his part of the cocky Huge Pompidou well, though he seemed to stop short of being a proper pantomime villain and was a bit-part figure, so much so, in fact, the audience forgot to boo him at points. The band, and supporting cast, including youngsters from the Barbara Jackson Theatre Arts Centre, did themselves proud. They did so in front of resplendent sets and backdrops, and while wearing beautiful - and sometimes zany - costumes.
Steve Royle did his usual act of pulling youngsters on stage for a quick audience-participation singsong at the end, which meant people left the historic venue chuckling and smiling and that’s surely the point of the whole thing.
This could be the best panto Blackpool has seen for years.
Read more at: https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/review-beauty-and-the-beast-grand-theatre-blackpool-1-9485512