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Beauty and the Beast

In the beautiful romantic city of Paris, Prince Friedrich is turned into a hideous beast by a wicked witch. Can Cupid work his magic and find a great beauty for him to fall in love with to break the terrible curse?

As this is panto, it’s not much of a spoiler to say, yes of course he can (oh, yes he can!).

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch’s version of the fairytale is a fabulous, raucous rock musical complete with the pantomime traditions of audience participation and a scene-stealing Dame.

From the start it was clear this festive extravaganza directed by Martin Berry was going to be top class entertainment. Impressive stage sets and scenery transported us from a forest to Paris to the Beast’s palace garden (via a very creative bed scene), and the cast not only have very good singing voices, they accompany themselves on guitar and saxophone.

Sarah Mahoney, the cackling wicked witch Sprite, nails I Put A Spell on You, there’s a bouncing ensemble rendition of Dancing in the Street before Molly-Grace Cutler’s Towie stereotype Essex girl Souffle (Beauty’s sister) belts out Material Girl.

Other dancefloor anthems featured include Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepson), Shut Up And Dance With Me (Walk The Moon), Bat Out Of Hell (Meatloaf), Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen) and Here I Go Again (Whitesnake).

Oliver Beamish is the hilarious Betty Bonbon in typical ludicrous outfits, while Oliver Lynes holds it all together as Charlie Cupid. Daniella Piper is Amorette, the beauty of the piece, and James Lawrence is the cursed prince.

Local schoolchildren make up the chorus and brought the first half to a rousing close dressed as wolves with glowing red eyes rushing around the stage and into the auditorium.

The show has plenty for adults to enjoy as well as children. There are lots of chances to boo the witch, a couple of opportunities to stand up and sing, and plenty of call and response. So be ready to shout, sing, laugh, boo and clap.

This is quality entertainment, a great night out with or without children.

Beauty and the Beast runs at the Queen’s Theatre. Billet Lane, Hornchurch, until January 7.

Romford Recorder

Beauty and the Beast

The Queen’s Theatre proudly presents Beauty and the beast, based on the original French novel by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Adapted for the stage by Andrew Pollard.

The story of Beauty and the Beast was, of course, made famous by the 1991 Disney Movie and recent live-action musical remake, but The Queen’s Theatre production goes back to the original French novel by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, including characters such as Charlie Cupid (played by Oliver Lynes) and Beauty’s Sister.

The play brings a much more modern feeling to the story using music from artists such as Queen and ‘Goo Goo Dolls’. At points it felt more like a Meatloaf tribute night with The Beast (Played by James Lawrence) standing on stage singing ‘I would do anything for love’ while playing an electric guitar.

There was some great singers amongst the cast, especially Amorette, who is the Beauty character (Played by Daniella Piper) and Soufflé (played by Molly-Grace Cutler) a character who belongs more in ‘TOWIE’ then a panto.

But this play is mainly aimed at the younger audience, and through the night you’ll find a lot more fart gags and pies in the face than you’ll find in the Emma Watson movie, but this is all part of the joy of panto and my 5-year-old daughter loved the show and took any opportunity she could to join in.

The two characters who mainly interacted with the audience was the cake maker Betty Bonbon (played by Oliver Beamish) and Charlie Cupid, between them they did a good job at getting the audience on their feet and keeping us excited. But the characters did take a little while to mature and I found myself enjoying it more in the second half.

The whole of the night was a lot of fun and I know that my 5 year old daughter enjoyed it, even though there were one or two moments that scared her. As always Beauty and the Beast brings the whole community together and it shows why The Queen’s Theatre is at the centre of Hornchurch.

Hornchurch Life

Beauty and the Beast

★★★★★

If I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of songs and references to various musicals in last year’s pantomime at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, this time around it was (almost) all about rock and pop music. Of course, anthems like ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and Bat Out of Hell fall under the canon of musical theatre, and in this production of Beauty and the Beast, subtle but nonetheless noticeable alterations have been made to the lyrics to suit the storyline. Other times, songs have been truncated from the versions of famed chart songs heard on the radio.

But far from depriving the audience of full renderings of songs, this approach demonstrated that some thought had gone into putting this show together. This was not a case of lazily forcing a narrative around a collection of popular tunes; rather, a mixture of spoken word, music and the usual call-and-response interactions with the crowd combined in such a way that resulted in a hugely enjoyable evening, irrespective of one’s familiarity with the songs, or indeed of pantomime itself.

Not for nothing does the musical director, Dan de Cruz, double up as Monsieur Plinky-Plonk: I’d have preferred it if he were called Monsieur Plinky McPlinkface, but audience participation never stretched as far as inviting suggestions for character names. Set in Paris, there is some exposure to faux French accents, but this is not overdone. The show’s narrator, Charlie Cupid (Oliver Lynes), works hard at maintaining audience interest – Lynes’ stage presence is infectious enough that the response to his opening phrase with every entrance is enthusiastically kept up to the end, something not always witnessed at a panto.

One or two songs could, to be blunt, be removed without affecting comprehension of the plot. But even these are an opportunity for the adult cast to assert themselves as so-called ‘triple threats’ – some marvellous actor-musicianship goes on – and for the ‘young company’, comprised, I am reliably informed, of local schoolchildren, to show they can hold their own amongst professional performers. In the second half, during ‘Shut Up and Dance’, many of the younger members of the audience (for ‘younger’, read ‘prepubescent’) joined in without any prior encouragement, making the song’s title more than a little ironic even before the rest of us were invited to rise from our seats and join in (lyrics were supplied).

Being the unromantic and unsentimental type that I am, I initially sided with the aptly-named Spite (Sarah Mahony), who wanted to thwart the talking and singing about love going on. In the end, however, I could hardly have any qualms with good triumphing over evil. Mahony may have momentarily wowed the audience with saxophone-playing skills, but this opening night audience was a discerning one, and swiftly reverted to boos without being prompted.

Now, pantomime wouldn’t be pantomime without a villain, and pantomime wouldn’t be pantomime without a dame. Here, Betty Bonbon (Oliver Beamish) is endearing and loveable. Personally, I thought the chemistry between Cupid and Soufflé (Molly-Grace Cutler) was more convincing than the one between Amorette, ‘beauty’, (Daniella Piper) and Prince Friedrich, ‘beast’ (James Lawrence).

London Theatre 1

Beauty and the Beast

The Queen’s Theatre’s pantomime Beauty and the Beast delivers rioutous festive fun for all the family from start to finish.

Director Martin Berry takes no risks with panto’s beloved form; expect costume changes, audience interaction, front-row perils, and cast making fun of children and adults alike.

The casts use of live instruments during musical performances adds an extra dynamic to the show. An assortment of brass, guitars, drums, keys and bass take centre stage during the shows best moments.

As is so important for a good panto, the show is brimming full with local colour. The cast pop jokes at the expense of Basildon, Billericay and the not so loved District Line. While ’Beauty’s’ sister is an exasperating yet lovable caricature of your typical TOWIE girl, who’s only care in life is looking “on fleek” for her Instagram followers.

Fleek? What on earth is a ’fleek’ you may ask. Well, there is plenty more ’down with the kids’ lingo throughout the show to make the grown-ups despair- “When did I get so old?”. I would suggest doing your linguistic research beforehand to avoid being one of those parents who dive for their phones to google ’hench’ when the prince is introduced as such!

A healthy sprinkling of adult humour is of course provided. Predictably the show couldn’t resist taking easy topical swipes at Donald Trump and Brexit, although I don’t imagine there will be a panto in the country that won’t.

And of course there is plenty of high octane, noise and fun for the kids. The hilarious hijinks of ’Super Goat’ have the children in hysterics (and most of the adults, even if we don’t care to admit it).

The song list takes care of all ages with classics like ’I Put a Spell on You’ and modern pop hits like ’Call me Maybe’. Most importantly the addition of live instrumentation really livens up the affair.

Unfortunately some, of the musical moments felt forced, both in timing and song selection, however this is easily forgiven thanks to the brilliance of the casts delivery.

Superbly garish costumes and spectacular set design round out this raucously fun pantomime with bundles of charm and character.

Yellow Advertiser

Beauty and the Beast

Poised between traditional panto and jukebox musical, this energetic interpretation of Beauty and the Beast is carried along on a blast of filling-looseningly loud live music.

Reuniting writer Andrew Pollard with director Martin Berry for the second year at the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch – after 2016’s equally hyperactive Cinderella – the show includes all the standard routines you might expect. Shout-outs, singalongs, and a relatively dignified slop scene all make appearances. Meanwhile, musical director Dan de Cruz rattles through a catchy playlist of soft rock and saccharine pop, taking in Madonna, Meatloaf, and the Black Eyed Peas.

Daniella Piper heads the cast as cheerful hostage Amorette, demonstrating a great voice and developing some warm chemistry with James Lawrence’s horned, devilishly charming Beast. Shining in a supporting role, Molly-Grace Cutler plays shallow but good-hearted Soufflé, handling several instruments with confidence and, most impressively, singing audibly above the better-amplified band.

An uncluttered set by Keith Orton features backcloths painted with simple storybook illustrations and handwritten messages ranging from the evocative ‘once upon a time’ to the more flatly descriptive trees. What the production may lack in subtlety it makes up for with warmth, heart and sheer volume.

The Stage

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