Beauty and the Beast, the 19th Pantomime of the wonderful 5As company of players, opened last night to a nearly full house – which was tremendous for a 1st night!
As the resident Barman, I was asked to write a review of the evening , standing as I do on the fringe of all that has gone into presenting such a truly lovely performance to the "pantomimers" who came to enjoy the traditional play.
Blessed by the fine weather after last week's horrors, the paying guests poured in and curtain up was at 7.30pm.
We were straight in to the true sprit of Panto as we met the characters as they "entered stage left" to the brightly lit stage. The opening number by the Junior Chorus of seventeen youngsters aged 4 upwards, was super with an energetic performance to the hit "Big Night".
Fairy Rosebud (Lucy Davenport) in a froth of pink "candy floss" faced the wrath of Witch Greenfly (Catherine Maddocks) as they fought as to who would win the traditional battle of good and bad. Witch Greenfly was dressed in a fantastic costume of streaming green.
On we went, with Paul Turner giving a true Tour de Force as the lead funny man. With that so traditional Audlem pairing of Marzipan & Charlotte (Leslie Davenport & Helen Katterloher) appearing throughout in a welter of rainbow coloured costume changes – owing nothing to the taste of Lagerfeld or Chanel!
The storyline of Beauty (Anjui Lathem-Remtulla) and her suitor the Prince – transformed wickedly into the Beast (a "professional" giant sized Rob Tovey) – was the thread throughout as the players presented a dazzling array of singing and dancing and scene changing.
The whole night was the product of many, many hours of rehearsal after rehearsal since last September. One hundred in the whole cast ranging from 4 years old right up to the master, Peter Webb, enjoying the fruits of all this work and revelling in the joy of putting on a really great show. And considering it was 1st night- hardly a line was prompted from off stage.
A major piece of praise is so well earned by Monique Hollinshead, Costumier to many London Shows, for the truly superb costumes created and made by her.
The glittering finale of a welter of lovely blue gowns was a smashing spectacle on stage and the whole ensemble sang the close of the night to much applause.
Photos of the production to follow.
An aside, if I may. The Panto audience included the whole pack of Audlem Cubs in their very smart uniforms. Under the guidance and protection of Tony Mills and Cathy Colgan, they came to me at the bar and once the news that water in a glass was no charge, it was a mass request for such.
They were the most lovely children. So polite. So articulate in their requests and so orderly as they queued. A true example of the good work by Tony and Cathy and all involved with this jewel in the Audlem Crown. Seeing such, I have no fears for the future of the nation.
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