Beauty and the Beast review at Salisbury Playhouse – ‘handsome, female-led panto’

Lesley Bates writes for The Stage:

This year, Salisbury Playhouse’s version of Beauty and the Beast kicks out traditional male hero, sidekick and villain. The Beast of the title – the imposing but not too scary Joseph Black – barely gets a look-in despite his importance to the plot.

Instead, the show is led by Liberty Buckland as the adventurous but kind-hearted Amorette who wins his heart. She is supported by Nerine Skinner, fabulous as her social media-obsessed sister Souffle (think French chic with a Towie twist) and Helen Colby’s malevolent Spite. The gender balance is redressed by Alex Wadham’s pink-clad Cupid and Ralph Bogard’s Monsieur Marzipan.

As Dame Betty Bonbon, Richard Ede is a vision of marshmallow-whipped hair and confection-themed couture, and his patter song of sweet treats is nothing short of a triumph.

The playhouse has set the bar high for its pantomimes in recent years and this one is up there with the best. Nobody puts a foot wrong or gets a sibilant out of place – despite some devilishly tongue-twisting lyrics.

Last year’s award-winning team of writer Andrew Pollard, director Ryan McBryde, designer James Button and musical director Christopher Peake is back, ensuring the gags come thick and fast. The glitter-encrusted set sparkles, custard pies fly, transformations are magical, the singing is tuneful and there are plenty of opportunities for audience participation.

Production information

Production

Beauty and the Beast

Venue

Salisbury Playhouse

City

Salisbury

Starts

December 1, 2018

Ends

January 13, 2019

Press night

December 5, 2018

Authors

Andrew Pollard

Director

Ryan McBryde

Musical director

Christopher Peake

Choreographer

Nicky Griffiths

Set

James Button

Lighting

David W Kidd

Sound

Jon Roache

Costume

James Button

Technical

Barny Meats (technical manager)

Stage manager

Rickie Gilgunn (company stage manager)

Production manager

John Titcombe

Cast includes

Richard Ede, Liberty Buckland, Helen Colby, Nerine Skinner, Alex Wadham, Ralph Bogard, Joseph Black, Henry Lawes, Ashley Runeckles

Casting

Ellie Collyer-Bristow

Producer

Wiltshire Creative