Reader Review

This review is an independent review submitted to Essential Suffolk. All efforts have been made to ensure that the review is genuine.  

Beauty And The Beast

Shotley Drama Group
Shotley Village Hall
Wednesday February 19 – Saturday February 22

Reviewer: Derek Davis

There have been many, many versions of this enchanting fairy tale since it was first penned by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve more than 270 years ago, but few performed so delightfully as this pantomime by the Shotley Drama Group.

Although sticking close to the original story of a prince, played by Dudley Lawrence, turned into a beast after being cursed by the convincingly dastardly Barbara-Moss Taylor as Fairy Bovver Boots, director Mandy Peters adds her own quirky, subtle and fun touches.

Michelle Merrin as Belle provides the beauty as the eponymous lead and is captivating, winning over the audience as easily as she does the children and, of course, her Prince, while spurning the not so bright Carlos, played with vigour by Connor Sams.

All pantos need a Dame and Smelle (Mel Matthews) combines desperation and cunning with comedic value, while her hapless stage father Claude (Kevin Widdick) holds everything together, while Goody Two Shoes, played lovingly by Jenny Millen, pulls the strings in the background to ensures pure love conquers all.

Cleverly weaved in throughout are hints of a number of other popular shows. One can’t watch the Beast’s servant Pierre enjoyable performance without thinking of Rene Artois from ‘Allo ‘Allo and there are other titter out loud references.

Clad in amazing costumes are the numerous supporting cast of children, how such a small village produces so many talented and dedicated young actors/actresses is great testament to the coaching and coaxing of the adults.

One standout moment is a solo from the impossibly gifted Sydnee (correct) Nicolas, expect to see her on the Voice or some such programme in the future.

The black and white theme threaded through added a touch of sophistication and class, while the multitude of colourful costumes combined superbly with some great, upbeat numbers, and there is even a clever use of CGI.

While there are many beautiful moments throughout the show, there is nothing beasty at all in the show, except, perhaps, the anxiety and stressful parts for the dedicated group of talented volunteers who worked so tirelessly to put on such an entertaining run.

Beauty and the Beast - Shotley Village Hall from Wednesday, February 19 to Saturday, February 22.
Evening performance starts at 7.30pm and Saturday matinee at 2.30pm. Tickets available from the Rose Inn and Shotley Gate Stores. Advance tickets cost £6, £5 for children and concessions and family ticket £19. On the door, tickets are £6.50, £5.50 and family ticket £20.

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