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PANTO REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast at Baytree Theatre is packed full of fun and guaranteed to keep the children (and adults) entertained

Baytree Theatre, at Weston, has quickly established a positive reputation for its family friendly, fast-paced shows.

And this year’s Christmas panto ‘Beauty and the Beast’ doesn’t disappoint.

You may wonder how they fit the classic fairy tale into an hour-long show, and I did ask myself ‘just how are they going to achieve it?’

Colourful characters, stunning costumes and plenty of Christmas sparkle - the panto has it all. (5975442)
Colourful characters, stunning costumes and plenty of Christmas sparkle - the panto has it all. (5975442)

But using some clever technology to introduce the story - with live action narration, colourful costumes, song, dance and plenty of jokes, they pulled it off seamlessly.

When I previously interviewed producer Paul Hammond, the founder of Baytree Theatre, he told me: “We make our shows very fast-paced, all action and family orientated and keep them short – to a maximum of an hour.

“People do not want the length. Most people can’t get off their phones for 45 minutes. The world we live in now is so fast-paced.”

He also keeps the price of the tickets starting at £7 to enable the theatre to be accessible to all.

Earlier this year, the team put a new sound and lighting rig into the room they use at the Baytree Garden Centre and heightened the stage. So once the main lights are dimmed, the feel is that you are inside a real working theatre.

As well as devising this year’s winter show, Paul also took to the stage as the very entertaining ‘Mrs Potts’. His slapstick scene attempting to make a cheesecake for the very demanding Prince with the ‘help’ of not so bright sidekick Lumie (played by Jordan Russell) had both the children and adults in fits of giggles.

The prince, who did not like Christmas – or it seemed much at all – was played convincingly by Dom Vaughen. He was later turned into ‘The Beast’ after being given a rose by a witch – the spell of which could only be broken when he learned to love and be kind.

The production is an original spin on the classic fairy tale with familiar characters. (5563949)
The production is an original spin on the classic fairy tale with familiar characters. (5563949)

Belle was played wonderfully by Hannah Fayer; Tia Bennett shone as the fairy and James Farrar was perfect as ‘Clockson’ the Beast’s loyal ‘majordomo’. Not forgetting Meghan Southwick, who did a great job as Fifi.

The show also included some brilliant performances by younger members – all local children. Twenty children auditioned and they were all given parts in the show, taking turns to appear in different performances.

Alongside retelling the classic fairy tale, there was plenty of Christmas sparkle, tinsel and glitter. There were references to current events for the adults – Trump got a mention, and even Kevin, the carrot from the Aldi advert, made an appearance.

And all this in just one hour!

Beauty and the Beast runs at the Baytree Theatre until December 30. Book via 01775 680760 or www.baytreetheatre.co.uk

Reviewed by Zoe Myall


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