Growing up in Australia meant that the traditional Christmas pantos were never really part of my life. Since living in the UK and having my little boy, I have discovered the pure joy and entertainment of the British Panto! The laughter and fun is something that you can’t really explain until you have been to one.
This year Leicester doesn’t fail to deliver when it comes to pantomimes. You can enter the world of Scrooge at the Curve Theatre, be delighted by Dick Whittington (and maybe his cat!) at the Little Theatre and be wowed by Belle and The Enchantress in Beauty and the Beast at the iconic and beautiful De Montfort Hall.
Excitingly we were invited along to the opening day of the Beauty and the Beast Pantomime last weekend. We are all really looking forward to the show. Being massive Disney fans, Beauty and the Beast is one of our favourite stories. I wondered how it would be brought to life on the stage.
We parked in the pay and display carpark next to De Montfort Hall, there is a carpark within the grounds of the hall but it filled up really quickly. We then made our way to the entrance of the hall.
De Montfort Hall is grand concert hall that first opened its doors in 1913. Over the years the hall has seen legendary performances from the likes of The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Frank Sinatra! During 2018 you can see Flashdance the Musical, the stage adaptation of David Walliams hugely popular Awful Aunty as well as some other great concerts and shows!
Dressed to impress for Christmas the hall looked beautiful and festive. We were all excited to collect our tickets from the box office. We bought a programme and L insisted on buying a “light up whizzy toy”. It was then time to take our seats. Dr Montfort is a tiered theatre so you are guaranteed a good view from most seats. We were delighted to find that we were very close to the stage.
The story of Belle and her Beast is set in the not so quiet town of Soggy Bottom. This unique telling of the now classic Disney tale is both hilarious and wildy entertaining. L was glued moment the the music began.
The Enchantress, played by X-Factor winner Sam Bailey has cursed the vain and cruel Prince. Karl Loxley plays the part of the Prince and Beast to perfection. Will he find true love before the enchanted rose wilts? I don’t want to spoil the whole story so won’t delve to deep into details.
The residents of Soggy Bottom include the flamboyant Dame Kimmy (Martin Ballard from BBC Radio Leicester), Dames Kimmys lovable son Dick (Richard McCourt of Dick and Dom fame), self obsessed Eugene (David Lawse), hapless Cedric (David Lonsdale of ITV’s Heartbeat) and beautiful Belle (Sarah Accomando).
I was struck at just how fantastic the whole production was, world class performances, music and choreography coupled with comic genius meant that both the adults and children were entertained from start to finish. We were treated to some beautifully written new songs as well as some great classics.
L loved the young dancers who made up the ensemble cast. The set design is magnificent and the costumes are so detailed and colourful.
Whilst the story and music does deviate slightly from Disney’s, this is in no way disappointing! It is a fresh and new production. There is a large amount of audience participation (well it wouldn’t be a Panto if you didn’t get covered in silly string!). I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so much!
The production lasted just over two hours, with a 20 minute interval. Refreshments are available through out the entire performance.
When it was time to leave L was raving about just how much he loved the show. He has been singing some of the tunes ever since. Our favourite character has to be Eugene, he is wildly over the top and funny.
I honestly can’t recommend the Beauty and The Beast Pantomime highly enough. It is a true family friendly show with something for everyone. The show runs until the 7th January, so there is still time to book your tickets!
Be sure to check out our Christmas in Leicester vlog (there are a few scenes from the show!):
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Disclaimer – we were guests of Visit Leicester and were provided with tickets to the Beauty and The Beast Pantomime for the purposes of this review. Our thoughts and opinions are 100% our own.