Last night we went to see Beauty and the Beast at St. Helens Theatre Royal which is fast becoming one of our favourite family activities and we are so thrilled that these pantomimes are now regular school holiday fixtures throughout the year and not just for Christmas, as they really are fabulous.
Having heard us bang on about these shows for the last 12 months it was a real treat for us to be able to take my mum with us to experience the panto vibe too, although I was a little worried that maybe I had bigged them up so much that she would find it anti climatical. However, when I spotted her wiping away tears of laughter from her eyes I knew she had fallen under the St. Helens spell like the rest of us.
Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time Disney favourites and having seen this advertised back in February I couldn’t believe it was actually here and having converted the boys into Beauty and the Beast fans with the newest version of the film it is fair to say they were equally as excitedas I was, although some of that might have been down to knowing that Lewis Devine was once again going to be on stage.
As with all their previous shows, the famous St. Helens twist on a classic, ensures that despite knowing the story line and of course how it ends, you will in actual fact have absolutely no idea of the plot twists coming your way, the additional characters you will meet, and when, where or how the adult jokes will be embedded into a children’s tale, but trust me the uncertainty of the plot twists is what keeps everyone transfixed on the stage and on the edge of the seats laughing from start to finish.
From the minute the show opens you are whisked away to a tiny village of Petis Pois where the enchanting story begins with music, dance and laughter that doesn’t stop till you walk out the door. It is here that we first meet Belle who is played by the beautiful Kiera-Nicole Brennan from Milkshake, so if you are taking any under 5’s prepare for them to be a little bit star struck as the lady off the telly appears right before them. Despite her young years her on stage charisma with Andrew Geater who plays the Beast made for a very believable tale of love and happy ever after and I hope she returns to St.Helens again soon.
As well as having charisma with the Beast, Belle also has a hilarious relationship with Gaston who is played by Philip Mcguinness and who is exactly what I imagine the love child of Johnny Bravo and Flynn Ryder from Tangled to be like, with more love for his own muscles than anything else.
A St.Helens show isn’t really a St.Helens show without Lewis Devine who plays French Frank and true to form he was the comic master that we have grown to expect. His humour, timing and stage presence has the audience engaged from the minute he walks on set and his ability to go off script but remain in character when things go wrong is a skill not many can master but one that isn’t lost on the audience who were literally crying with laughter on more than one occasion last night. Lewis is by far our family favourite St.Helens star and who has this knack of interacting with both adults and children simultaneously but in different ways and we are already looking forward to watching him take on the leading role in Peter Pan this Christmas.
As always I have to give a special mention to the youngest performers from Dance Dynamix and Attitude Dance who are so little and adorable yet so brilliant and professional and clearly have fantastic careers a head of themselves if they can dance and perform like this at such a young age, they add so much to the shows and always look like they are having the best time up there. They even got a “wow” from the tiddler at one point as they back flipped across the stage and bent themselves into what looked like very painful positions with absolute ease.
If you are thinking of heading over to the pantomime then don’t go expecting the traditional story and the classic Disney songs because that isn’t what this.
Go expecting the unexpected, the flashes, the bangs and a beast that can float in mid air.
Go expecting to be to foot tapping and hand clapping to songs you wont be able to stop yourself singing along to.
Go expecting to be wowed by a tiny theatre that pulls the biggest of punches, where nothing is off limits.
But most of all go expecting a great time and to leave with a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.
If you haven’t already bought your tickets then I highly recommend that you do. The St.Helens pantomimes are by far the funniest we have ever seen and Beauty and the Beast is no exception.
(We were gifted tickets to this show in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.)