THEATRE REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast, Crowland Amateur Dramatic Society, South View Community Primary School, Crowland
What could be a better way to start the half-term holidays in Crowland than with a good family pantomime?
The town's South View Community Primary School made room for a cast of all ages as Crowland Amateur Dramatic Society (CADS) got their 40th anniversary year under way with the classic good versus bad tale, Beauty and the Beast.
Crowland's senior Young Achiever of the Year 2018, Dilara Greene was handed the honour of playing Belle in a reversal of the handsome prince saves a damsel in distress scenario.
However, the responsibility on Belle to hold the production together, whilst singing well-known songs like "A Million Dreams" (from The Greatest Showman) was considerable.
Foremost in supporting Belle were Mr CADS himself, John Munton, as pantomime dame Smelle, John Martin, as Belle's dad Claude and the opposing fairies, Goody Two Shoes (Jayne Munton) and Fairy Bovver Boots (Jo Strickland).
The tale itself is simple enough, a young prince (Charlotte Cureton) is cursed by a mysterious woman and takes on the appearance of a beast (Cheryl Doyle) whose only hope of breaking the spell is to earn the love of a young woman.
When the beast takes Belle's dad prisoner after finding him walking around in the beast's castle, Belle offers to take her ill dad's place as his prisoner.
With help from the beast's staff, headed by Pierre (Rachel Cross), Belle builds a relationship with her captor and eventually falls in love with him.
Back in her dad's village, however, unscrupulous hunter Carlos (Carla Cole) has his own plans for Belle by rescuing her from the beast and taking her as his wife instead.
Two things in particular made this pantomime stand out, one was the enthusiastic supporting of cast of youngsters who had the time of their lives singing chart hits that were circulating round night clubs long before they were born.
Examples of these were Chic's "Everybody Dance" (1978), Lynn Anderson's (I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden, from 1970, and Michael's Jackson's "Blame It on the Boogie" (1978).
The other pleasant surprise was the superb special effects and lighting, all engineered by "behind the scenes" crew led by technical director Michael Joyce-Knowles, sound technician Charlie Bennett and lighting assistants Steve Strickland, Henry Cross and Joe Williams.
Credit should go also to the choreographers, set designers and wardrobe team whose efforts elevated CADS' Beauty and the Beast far above your standard town or village theatre show.
As for Belle, London's West End or New York's Broadway stages just might come calling.
Review by Winston Brown