Peterborough Key Theatre panto will be a thing of Beauty!

TJ Holmes will play the Dame in the Key Theatre panto Beauty and the Beast
TJ Holmes will play the Dame in the Key Theatre panto Beauty and the Beast

Simon Egerton puts a hilarious, local twist on the traditional tale of Beauty and the Beast as panto returns to Peterborough’s Key Theatre in December.

Writer and director Simon sets the action in the provincial town of Pierreborough (home of the ‘Macrongate Shopping Centre’) with set, costumes and actors showing off lederhosen, alpenhorns and plenty of yodelling.

Against this backdrop of alpine silliness, we meet the quirky, kooky character of Belle (who doesn’t really like dressing like ‘the other girls’) and are swept up in an adventure with her to undo the curse of the wicked Wolf Queen and her Wolf Pack.

Along the way, Belle teams up with friends and family to rescue The Beast, (a formerly charming Chevalier) from his terrifying transformation.

The panto at the Key is always unique in that all the music is performed on stage by the actors themselves - from drums to dulcimers - and this year’s cast features the return of some firm Peterborough favourites as well as some talented new faces.

Returning cast members include Fran Frenech as the evil Wolf Queen, who in last year’s Peter Pan played the operatic pirate diva Dolores Smee. Rob Hazle, who will be known to Peterborough audiences as John in Peter Pan (2018), Potty the Chamberlain in Sleeping Beauty (2017) and Uncle Billy in Dick Whittington (2016) returns in the role of Chef Jean-Paul.

Key Theatre stalwart Robin Johnson, who played Barnacle Bill in Peter Pan (2018), King Rat in Dick Whittington (2016) and Abanazar in Aladdin (2015) this year plays the (much friendlier) role of Belle’s father – Monsieur deDumdeDumdeDum.

In the starring role of Belle, Rebecca Levy will be wowing audiences for the third year running, having previously played the title role in Peter Pan (2018) and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (2017).

Every panto needs a dame and joining the cast this year is TJ Holmes as Madame Obnobs. TJ is an experienced actor-musician and musical theatre performer who is joining the company ‘hot foot’ from touring in the hilarious hit show One Man, Two Guv’nors.

And look out for three teams of 10 children from Peterborough and the surrounding area who will play the Wolf Queen’s evil Wolf Pack.

Writer, director and composer Simon Egerton said: “I am thrilled to be back working with the creative team at the Key Theatre again and with such a fantastic cast and crew. Our shows combine the best traditional family panto and musical experience you can find, not just in Peterborough. We aim to provide all the glitz, glamour, fun and “he’s behind you”s that you might expect but always find room to make things a little different.”

Beauty and the Beast runs from December 5 to January 5 2019. You can book online at vivacity.org/panto or call the Key Theatre box office on 01733 207239.