If You Only See One Christmas Panto ...

Go local - make it Beauty and the Beast at The Questors

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This is a massively ambitious production (2 hrs 25 minutes) by Questors, (which lest we forget is manned by an army of local volunteers) but I'm delighted to report it's performed with great style and professionalism and tonight's audience (Wednesday 22nd December) absolutely loved it.

''That's the best thing I've ever seen'' said one excited youngster after the curtain call - a sentiment shared by many.

Beauty and the Beast is a traditional fairy tale but best known because of Disney's 1991 animation.

It's a great choice for a Christmas panto as it has everything you want; songs, dancing, magic, comedy, a baddie and a happy ending.

Of course it's the tale of young Belle,and the Beast who must learn to love and be loved before the last rose petal falls.

Both leads were excellent. Susannah Gray (Belle) played it just about right - not too saccharine (always a danger) and just enough feisty. Her singing was angelic, powerful and consistent - such a lot of songs to get through she must be congratulated for her stamina alone!

Nick Moorhead as the Beast had an even harder task. Performing with full facial mask would challenge many top actors but Moorhead commanded the stage with his physicality. Using his body he conveyed the menace yet vulnerability of the man turned beast.

Gaston (Simon Rudkin) made a great baddie with a good sense of comic timing.

The household 'implements' were all excellent : Robert Vass (Cogsworth), Lucy Parker (Mrs Potts), Daniel Harte (Chip) Victoria Butler (Babette)and Wesley Lloyd (Lumiere) Zyg Staniaszek (the show's director and also the fabulously camp Madame de la Grande Bouche).

Costumes designed by Raymond Childe were simply spectacular and worthy of any West End stage, as was the musical direction (Benjamin Cox).

It's impossible to name everyone involved in this successful production but the talented cast (which includes 30 members of Questors Youth Theatre) all performed with heart and soul (great choreography by Megan Singleton) and made the whole experience a most watchable and enjoyable theatrical experience.

Go see it and take the family.

The Questors production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast runs until Friday 31st December. Full dates and online booking at www.ealingtheatre.com


Annemarie Flanagan


22 December 2010

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