Express & Star

Beauty and the Beast is a wonderfully silly show that lights up Lichfield's Garrick Theatre

Review: Beauty and the Beast at Lichfield's Garrick Theatre

Plenty of slapstick, song and in-jokes about Staffordshire – Beauty and the Beast at Lichfield's Garrick Theatre
Plenty of slapstick, song and in-jokes about Staffordshire – Beauty and the Beast at Lichfield's Garrick Theatre

Lichfield Garrick’s production of Beauty and the Beast comes with a good pedigree – producer Emily Wood and writer and producer Paul Henry were responsible for last year’s record breaking Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Beauty and the Beast is a story about finding love and is derived from the traditional French fairytale Belle et al Bete. But this production is rooted firmly in Staffordshire, with lots of references to the local area and in jokes that went down a storm.

Beauty and the Beast at Lichfield's Garrick Theatre

Favourite Sam Rathbone returns for another year as the pantomime dame Madame Fillop, with her son and sidekick Phillipe played by Ben Thornton. Having worked together on previous productions the duo are quick to enlist the audience as part of their gang with lots of special greetings and silly phrases. They speed through all our favourite catchphrases to a quickfire of 35 consecutive Disney jokes with the help of Jacob Kohli, as Danton, who is in love with Belle almost as much as he is in love with himself.

Kat Chatterton brings glamour and a powerful voice to the role of Belle, spurning Danton’s advances, while trying to help the Beast, a role undertaken by Melad Hamidi. The Beast is working against time desperate to reverse the spell Nightshade ( Sarah Annakin) has placed on him which will return him to his former self (the Prince) if only he can find someone to fall in love with him, before the rose in the enchanted forest loses all its petals.

Sarah Annakin as Nightshade

Natalie Pilkington is on hand as Cupid to fight against the evil Nightshade while encouraging Belle to help the Beast. The cast are ably supported by the ensemble, who take on a variety of roles from villagers dancing and singing through the first half to furniture in the castle and wolves in the enchanted wood. Watch out for a surprise appearance by “figgy”.

As with any pantomime it is the audience participation that makes it such fun and there is plenty, from sing songs with children from the audience, to shoutouts warning of the “baddies” and Madame Bellie Fillop’s attempts to secure a boyfriend from the audience..

However it is the slapstick in the second half as Madame Fillop and Phillipe attempt to make ice cream with their new inventions that generates the most laughs as they skip and slip across the stage and end up covered from head to toe.

Creative costumes for Beauty and the Beast at Lichfield's Garrick Theatre

Head of wardrobe Lauren Broxton has done a fabulous job with Madame Fillop appearing with ever more bizarre hairstyles and outfits as the show progresses.

The finale culminates with the audience on their feet dancing and singing along to a well choreographed routine with cast members in an array of silver outfits and ticker tape falling from the ceiling.

Beauty and the Beast runs until Sunday January 7.

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