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