Review: Beauty and the Beast, Key Theatre, Peterborough

There is a little bit of everything that is good about live theatre in this year’s panto offering at The Key, Beauty and the Beast.

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 5:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th December 2019, 9:16 am
Beauty and the Beast panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-190412-221231009
Beauty and the Beast panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-190412-221231009

It is panto first and foremost, so there was more than enough knockabout slapstick comedy, visual humour, funny looks, silly jokes - I did laugh at the sausage scene with the predictable punchline - and audience participation.

But, as with all recent festive offerings at the Embankment venue, it didn’t end there.

There was a bit of Musical Hall to be found, with songs such as When You Want Some Extra Flavour Try A Knobbly One and Appiness (superbly done)!

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Beauty and the Beast panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-190412-221644009

The big numbers of the night I Will Go Instead, The Beast and This Is Not What I Expected were excellent, and all firmly in the musical theatre genre.

The live music - played by the super-talented cast, on stage was fantastic too.

They even found room for a little yodelling and some puppetry.

This was Simon Egerton’s take on the classic French fairytale. It isn’t best suited to the panto genre, and a terrific opening scene apart it was a bit of a slow burner. But it built up beautifully with the highlights for me in a packed Act 2. Without giving too much away the musical scene with Jean-Paul, George and, er, Barnie was terrific.

Beauty and the Beast panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-190412-221242009

Rebecca Levy was an absolute star as the Tomboyish Belle - nice acting performance, great around the dancefloor and with a standout voice. A real triple threat.

Francesca Fenech was a good fit as the not-too-menacing Wolf Queen and Bad Wolf was a great choice of song for her.

Gregor Duncan raised plenty of smiles as a likeable Barnie Doors, while TJ Holmes (Madame Obnobs) was a dame with a difference, who grew on me.

Robin Johnson still managed to inject a little humour into a straight role (Monsieur George), and I did take a shine to Robert Hazle’s miserable chef Jean-Paul.

Beauty and the Beast panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-190412-221326009

And it was a joy to see the talented youth chorus play such a big part in an unexpected but seasonally appropriate finale.

Beauty and the Beast panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-190412-221751009
Beauty and the Beast panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-190412-221421009
Beauty and the Beast panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-190412-221315009
Beauty and the Beast panto at the Key Theatre. EMN-190412-221538009