Reviewed by Sandip
“It’s behind you! Oh no it’s not, oh yes it is”. Yes it’s Panto time again and oh how we’ve missed it! In our house, we love starting the Christmas season with a Christmas Panto. We’ve been for 4 years in a row but for obvious reasons we couldn’t go last year.
Myself and my 7 and 10 year old went to see the classic fairy-tale story of Beauty and the Beast at the Nottingham Playhouse last night and we loved every minute of it! I didn’t realise how much we missed the Panto until we were there, all the outfits, song, cheesy one liners, Dad jokes and general fun.
Beauty and the Beast is set in a generic French town called La Rochelle sur Trent and the back drop introducing us to the town has signposts directing you to ‘Le M1’ and ‘Vicky Centre’ and has shop signs such as 200oC Coffee shop and my personal favourite, although not just synonymous to Nottingham, Le Patisserie Groggs.
Apart from the backdrop there were lots of Nottingham related ‘in jokes’ even starting with the first words we hear uttered on stage, which were “Ey Up Me Ducks!” which we later found out was said by Madam Fi Fi, my favourite character of the night. However, Madame Fi Fi was not the first character on stage that we were introduced to. That was Jacques the Lad, played by Myles Miller. Jacques plays a dual role of Belle’s brother but also is the narrator of the play. He is a fun character full of energy and likeability. Occasionally, he come onto the stage and encourages us to shout out “Bonjour Jacques!” every time he come out and says “Bonjour”.
Jacques introduces us to all the characters in the show during the first few scenes. We get to meet Belle’s sisters, Veronique and Florence, who are 2 very larger than life, social media loving, wanna be ‘It’ girls who adore Kim Kardashian, who are never seen without their mobile phones. We also meet Gaston who is just as a big, arrogant show off as he appears to be in the original film. We then meet Belle’s Dad Maurice who although occasionally sounding like Victor Meldrew, was an energetic, bouncy lovable Dad. We meet the beautiful Belle, played by Lisa Ambalavanar, who portrays our heroine perfectly well.
Then there is my favourite character, Madam Fi Fi. It isn’t a good ol’ Panto without a pantomime dame and John Elkington was the perfect dame. The delivery of his performance was great and his comedy timing was perfect. He also has a great singing voice! His elaborate and colourful outfits were a sight to hold, and my kids laughed at every single one of them as Madam Fi Fi flounced onto the stage.
The musical numbers were great and they were a good mix of current and older pop songs, some medlied together to make a foot tapping and clapping experience for all the audience. My kids favourite musical numbers were the 2 sausage roll songs I Love Sausage Rolls and We built this City On Sausage Rolls! Another nod to Nottingham as these where penned and sun by local lad LadBaby.
All in all, we had an amazing night and despite getting home way later than their usual bedtime, on the journey home they discussed all the bits they loved, and there was a lot they discussed. It was great to get back to the Panto, but even without the pandemic break last year, Beauty and the Beast is a play well worth watching in it’s own right. Oh and keep an eye out for the runaway chicken!
Ticket cost price £18-£40
Showing at Nottingham Playhouse from 3rd December 2021 to 15th January 2022
Tickets can be purchased at https://nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk or by calling the box office on 0115 941 9419