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.