beaut cast

Olivia Birchenough as Belle (left), Leon Craig as Polly La Plonk,  Mark James as Louis La Plonk, (front\), Phil Atkinson as Hugo Pompidou and Melanie Walters as Fairy Bon Bon.

Beauty and the Beast

Malvern Theatres


The pantomime season has opened in Malvern with a grand and hilarious production of Beauty and the Beast! UK Productions have brought this majestic show to life with huge energy and humour.

The simple romantic story, of Belle falling in love with the creature whose exterior is so rough and ugly, illustrates the moral that you should ‘never judge a book by its cover’; that inner beauty is more important than outer; that true love can turn even the ugly and angry into the kind and caring.

The story is set in France, which gives occasion to plenty of French jokes and allusions. The story is set in the village of Camembert, even the director of music is wearing a beret and has a string of onions around his neck.

The set for this production is majestic and impressive: the scenery and the painted screens fly in and out, the archways rotate and change, the lighting illuminates it all very well and special effects abound.

The music (Tom Self) and the songs are full of life and energy, though the words were not always discernible. The voices were strong and the adaptation of a song from Les Misérables was powerful, melodious and very witty.

Mark James (Louis la Plonk) is a darling of the Malvern Theatre and creates a wonderful rapport with the audience from the very start of the show. This element gets them going immediately the curtain goes up and ensures their best possible engagement throughout the evening.

Leon Craig (Polly la Plonk, the pantomime dame) develops a hilarious partnership with Mark with his/her multiple, colourful and extravagant costumes. Their interplay is excellent and very amusing.

The villain of the piece, Hugo Pompidou, played by Phil Atkinson, is a very handsome, randy and likeable baddie! Melanie Walters is a slightly cheeky but charming Fairy Bon Bon, who ensures good overcomes evil and they all live happily ever after. David Alcock makes the most of the role of Belle’s father Clément.

The Beast, Shaun Dalton, has a powerful voice and strong presence; he evolves from monster to gallant prince effectively. Olivia Birchenough is a delightful Belle who manages to balance the La Plonk duo well in the ghostly scene.

The choreography (Cameron Macdonald) in this production is excellent. All the cast join in the dances at times, the villagers add atmosphere, the children from Cecilia Hall Dance Centre are perfectly charming and delightful. All are wonderfully costumed by Abigail Warne and her team who bring huge colour, variety and coordination to this extravagant evening and its wonderful visual finale.

This is classic pantomime with all the essential ingredients of audience participation, visual richness, plenty of puns and verbal humour, a slice of adult innuendo, and a great sense of chemistry in the team who are having a lot of fun with the show. With two shows most days until January, families have plenty of opportunities to see this great evening of light-hearted fun.To 01-01-23

Tim Crow


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