Panto is once again a triumph

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Beauty and the Beast at Alnwick Playhouse until Saturday.

Alnwick Theatre Company’s pantomime is a highlight of the calendar. It is renowned for providing laughs aplenty, family fun and making those blue January days seem brighter.

And this year was no different.

Taking on a children’s classic, Beauty and the Beast, this year’s show was always set to be a winner.

Directed by long-standing theatre club member Susan Joyce and with new cast members, as well as some familiar faces, it was a triumph.

The stars of the show were undoubtedly Lucy Draper as Belle and Helen Gee Graham as Prince Danton and the Beast, as well as Trevor Hughes as the dame – Madame Fifi.

Lucy was just fantastic. She is a perfect Belle – from the beautiful costumes to the way she presented herself on stage, her connection with the cast and her whole demeanour, she was clearly the Belle of the ball. Lucy is definitely one to watch out for.

Her solo performing Fleur East’s Sax was outstanding, a truly talented actress.

Helen Gee Graham is a long-standing member of the club and over her years of performance she has just got better and better.

She portrayed the Prince as kind and loving, and the beast as fierce and frightening, with elegance.

And then there is Trevor Hughes, dressed delightfully as a French maid, he made the audience laugh, got them engaged and kept them watching. He was superb, giving off just the right amount of ‘campness’.

Of course, no panto could be complete without a fairy godmother and an evil sorcerer. Gill Lyons was fab in her role as Flora the flower fairy, while Carol Lawrence made a great Belladonna, although at times it was a little over the top, but it is panto after all.

Ermengarde and Esmerelda (Rowan Hart and Rebekah Sayer) made good older sisters, akin to the ugly sisters in Cinderella, all fake tans and manicures. Peter Biggers as Marcel, and Beth Croft as Monique, the beauticians, were incredibly funny, but the salon scene could have been speeded up a little.

Richard Glenn as Alphonse, Belle’s father, was the doting dad and his rapport with his daughters was superb.

The musical numbers were also brilliant, with plenty of fun and some great choreography. From Abba to Adele, they were performed with huge enthusiasm.

Praise must also be given to the dancers from the Alnwick Academy of Dance whose routines were just outstanding.

Despite a couple of mic issues and some line prompts, the show was brilliant and everyone involved should be commended.

Beauty and the Beast is on until Saturday. See www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk for tickets.