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REVIEW: Beauty & the Beast at Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House


Enchanted Entertainment presents: 

Beauty & the Beast

Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House

Until Sunday 8 January 2023


If you want a funny panto with lots of jokes, songs and that makes the audience reaction a part of the show then you should consider a trip to Westgate Road’s beautiful Grade 1 listed ‘Theatre for Everyone’. Beauty and the Beast is a very good, very funny panto.

Back once again are local comics Charlie Richmond as Daveed,

 and Lewis Denny as Dame Brenda. Their onstage chemistry is an established one that feels very natural. They are on the same page, and that is the same page as the audience. The familiarity of the local stars helps make this have a feeling of a local panto. Added to the mix this year is another Tynesider with a great sense of humour - Micky Cochrane who is at home as the creepy baddie Anton du Berk. Micky courts the booing from the audience and encourages the laughs with his hilarious “French” accent. He  worked well off the natural comedy of the regulars Richmond and Denny. Between them they create a wonderful three ringed circus. 

There is a story to be enjoyed and the three comedy roles are backed up with a cast that have gelled well together. First onstage is a Sugarbabe on a sabbatical. Amelle Berrabah appears as the imaginatively named Fairy Sugarbabe. Of course she gets a chance to sing and dance, backed up by both four professional dancers and one of the rotating groups of younger dancers. She is an enthusiastic and engaging fairy to drive the story along.

The other recognisable name on stage is JJ Hamblett who rose to fame in X Factor band Union J. Considering that, he actually gave the role of the beast pathos so you felt empathy towards his plight. Unexpected sensitivity in the middle of the panto chaos,  Hopefully any minor microphone issues will get fixed later in the run - I’d like to point out that every panto we have seen this year has had sound problems on press night. At least we didn’t have any mics completely die tonight!

The final piece in the panto jigsaw is another local actor as Newcastle’s marvelous Beth Clarke plays a perfectly straight bat as Belle. Whilst being very lovely and enigmatic, it is important that her role with the Beast enables the exposition to flow. We are here for a story after all.

In the pit is a live band under local musical director Andrew Soulsby. The use of a live band enables the music to fit the erratic nature of the live panto. If Charlie Richmond and/or Lewis Denny are spending longer than planned on the floor of the stalls then the music can continue.  

A nod too for the crew back stage that are clearly making the magic happen. Considering that this was only the second show - they were flawless.

What does this show offer from the panto canon? Lots of jokes and a take off scene that includes 3D projection. Whilst us cynical old hacks may roll our eyes at the use of 3D but, give the reaction of the younger audience members, it was a real first for many in the audience to see spooky stuff flying out of the stage, Using a bench and singing Ghostbusters did mean the show was entering Whitley Bay’s territory (but there again - the 12 days of Xmas down Grey Street was made popular elsewhere).

I liked it. We both liked it. In a year in which each panto seems to be in great form, the Tyne show stands out by being a friendly funny show. The enthusiastic audience reaction was the best we have seen so far this season.

Review: Stephen Oliver

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