Reviewed by Jan Dixon
Its that time of the year again – panto season! In 2019 Ferneham Hall, in association with Jordan Productions, present the pantomime classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’. It will certainly feel ‘a lot like Christmas’ once you have had the good fortune to attend a performance of this latest show. Jordan Productions have brought pantomime to Ferneham Hall for the past nine years, with their excellent standard of production never faltering.
Beauty and the Beast is a well-loved fairy tale, combining all the elements you come to expect – a beautiful young woman, dashing prince, evil witch, good fairy and various servants as supporting cast members. Matt Lapinskas, as Prince Gallant, aptly portrayed the arrogant heir to the throne with all the mannerisms of disdain you would expect from the character. Conversely, Beauty (Charlotte Christensen) was a beautiful young woman who knew her mind and was not overawed by the advances of the Prince. Both Prince Gallant and Beauty sang their solos and duets with great style and excellence; a joy to listen to.
With the two main characters of the story setting the scene of a potential love match, come the ‘evil/good elements – in the form of Malevolent (Nicki French) and Fairy Formidable (Tara Verloop). Nicki French clearly relished her role as the ‘baddie’; successfully encouraging the audience to boo and hiss whenever she appeared on the stage. The Fairy Formidable also had the role of narrator, explaining the different scenes to the audience, which kept the storyline flowing.
Now to the real pantomime elements – Dame Dorothea Derriere (Michael Neilson) and Potty Pierre (Kevin James). These excellent performers demonstrated their many talents as actors, singers and slapstick comedians. They interacted brilliantly with the willing public; encouraging catch phrases and audience participation constantly. This was totally an immersive experience, with the everyone quickly becoming an integral part of the show. Much laughter – which must have been so rewarding for the performers and certainly made the audience very happy.
Additionally, Jean Jacques (Barrie Palmer) as Beauty’s father, showcased his vocal talents and straight-faced acting skills to contrast with the over-the-top antics of the others. A live band, consisting Simona Budd (keys), Calum Johnson (drums/percussion) and Chris Simmons/Brain Streeter (bass/guitar) was a very welcome addition, which enhanced the show.
I attended the pantomime with two of my granddaughters (aged 11 and 10 years), who thoroughly enjoyed the performance. They really laughed and enjoyed singing along to songs by Lewis Capaldi, Rag’n’Bone Man, George Ezra, Abba, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello throughout the show.
Finally, there were a number of dancers from a Portsmouth Dance School run by Marie Clarke, who were well choreographed by Tara Verloop. They appeared many times, showing their incredible dancing skills and polished performance.
An excellent show; thoroughly recommended, with a 5 star rating. Do grasp the opportunity of bringing the family along to this pantomime – you have until January 5th 2020 to experience a fun-filled show!
Ferneham Hall is a very welcoming venue, with staff providing customer care to the highest standard. It is on Osborne Road, behind Fareham Shopping Centre and adjacent to Osborn Road multi-storey carpark. There is also provision for parking immediately outside Ferneham Hall. All parking is free after 6pm. If you are coming by road there is easy access off Junction 11 of the M27; by rail the venue is a 15 minute walk from the railway station. After opening in 1982, Ferneham Hall will be closing for refurbishment for approximately two years after the last pantomime performance on 5th January 2020. The new operators BH Live look forward to reopening with the same high standard of performances in future years.
Tickets cost from £11 to £21 (booking fees may apply).
Beauty and the Beast is at Ferneham Hall in Fareham, Hampshire from 13 December 2019 to 5 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.fernehamhall.co.uk or call the box office on 01329 231942.
Ferneham Hall, Osborn Road, Fareham, Hampshire, PO16 7DB | 01329 231942