BEAUTY & THE BEAST
Globe Theatre, Blackpool Pleasure Beach
25th Nov to 24th Dec 2023
“Returning to Blackpool’s most highly-anticipated stage production of the year is influencer and TV personality Charlotte Dawson, alongside ITV’s weather presenter Emma Jesson and Simon Green AKA Betty Legs Diamond, who will be joining a fabulous cast of panto pros on The Globe’s iconic stage at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Charlotte will be back for her second season as she takes the stage to yet again entertain audiences from near and far. Originally from Manchester, Charlotte is an influencer with over one million followers on Instagram. Previously she has appeared in reality TV shows such as Rough and Ready, Love Squad, and Celebs on The Farm.”
Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars
Disney’s BEAUTY & THE BEAST has the monumental music of Alan Menken which sadly can’t be used on a seaside town pantomime – well legally anyway. So what can you do if the story’s great and traditional pantomimes just aren’t interesting enough? While many pantos get away with many things this one hasn’t tried to copy Disney and instead has changed character names and to a lesser extent the story.
What works best here is the ensemble musical numbers with great music, energy and performers. These are very entertaining with good song choices and showgirl-style formations. All backed up with great costumes – and lots of different costumes throughout the 70 minute show. With two shows almost every day it’s a busy schedule on a short season.
This is certainly a family show and the children seemed most interested in the more fun upbeat group numbers than anything else.
Alexey Kofanov served up some exciting aerial skills using a garden swing and silks. The rain effects are really impressive adding extra pizzazz to the show. There is a lot packed into BEAUTY & THE BEAST.
Betty Legs Diamond sings live, dances and acts, and Ashley Luke Lloyd as Prince Ashton, deliver their characters with experienced professionalism. Some of the other principals get a little lost in the malestrom of the production. Davi Cross as Gaston stays on the same level of energy throughout and Charlotte Dawson as Fortulicious shouts everything.
The sound on this show isn’t great. Loud, ringing live mics, plenty of feedback and background soundscapes that drown the principals make it very hard to follow the story. Perhaps sitting up high in a tech booth that’s not in line with the speakers and the audience experience means it’s hard to tell the difference between “atmosphere” and “painfully loud”. The lighting has some nice moments, in particular the transformation into the Beast, taking advantage of the venue’s extensive palette of equipment. However, a lot of the time the acting scenes have either dark faces, or, when the followspots are used, they are too bright. And talking of follow spots, they’re often too big or miss when they come on and then have to pan over to their pickup. The final love song in yellow filters do not provide an attractive facial look, even if it does pick out the gold trim of the costumes. The audience participation number has the Fairy in the audience moving around in the pitch black darkness of the auditorium. It does feel like the show would benefit from more experienced sound and lighting designers. The video wall works a treat especially in the forest scene.
Coming from a multi-cultural city like London, and travelling to Blackpool, does sometimes feel like a step-back in time. Not only does this large cast lack diversity and Global Majority within the casting, but this is also reflected in the make-up of the audience, but I don’t think anyone actually notices. It does feel unusual to someone more used to the London theatre scene.
Sadly the Fairy doesn’t use rhyming couplets and there are some very dodgy French accents that could rival “…Allo Allo?” There are moments in the show when both the lights and sound fade all together between scenes, rather than an overlap, which causes a loss in momentum. It’s a shame when panto traditions and stagecraft mastery are lost once a show gets re-imagined. Director Adam Slevin hasn’t quite managed to polish this production to the usual high standards of Stageworks.
While at the Pleasure Beach it’s definitely worth visiting the delightful and enchanting Christmas Grotto Wonderland. A beautifully landscaped walk along many Christmas trees with Christmas lights sparkling everywhere. It’s so pretty! Santa’s helpers guide and greet you and give Christmas gifts to the children and there’s a welcome hot chocolate with marshmallows on exit.
Just outside is the Alice in Wonderland ride giving even more entertainment for all the family to enjoy together.
A short-ish show, a Grotto, some Fairground rides – once again, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is ideal family entertainment that’s better than an over-dose of Calpol if you have children and a holiday to survive.
Beauty and The Beast runs on selected dates from 25th November until 24th December with tickets starting from £12 per person. To book, please call 0871 222 9090* or visit www.blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/shows/cinderella-the-pantomime.