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.