School was out for the pupils of Coldingham Primary last Friday morning and pantomime was firmly in as they were entertained by M&M Productions and there take on ‘Beauty & the Beast’.
Unlike ‘Cinderella’, ‘Aladdin’ et al, the tale isn’t one given the panto treatment all that often but the energetic cast ensured that their version was one that would be remembered for all the right reasons.
There were a few nods to the hit Disney animation of the same name, borrowing ‘Belle’ and the title track from its soundtrack, and the rest of the show was certainly very animated in a different sense of the word.
It was hard to believe that there were only four actors in the cast as all manner of roles were covered from a playful dog, talking candlestick and even a brief appearance by an obligatory panto dame.
The only member of the cast not involved in any frantic costume changes was Lauren-Louise McCaig who was a sweet yet plucky Belle.
On stage in nearly every scene, Lauren was everything you’d want from a heroine and her vocal chords certainly got a workout thanks to the likes of One Direction’s ‘One Way Or Another’ and ‘Live While We’re Young’ to name but two songs.
The pop charts were utilised to perfection for the show’s repertoire with Olly Murs back catalogue also dipped into and energetic renditions of Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’ and Ylis recent novelty hit ‘What Does The Fox Say?’
With many aliases to take on there was no time for any of the cast to pause for a breath but ‘Beauty & the Beast’ was frantic and chaotic in the best kind of way.
Although the villain of the piece, it was hard not to crack a smile at Alex Foreman’s Gaston. Yes the necessary arrogance and cold heart were present and correct but his David Walliams-esque treatment of the role added some added camp, which is of course always welcome in panto land.
As Gaston’s goofy sidekick Gormless, Matt Tring bounded about the stage with the energy of a child who’d had too many E numbers. Every movement, gag or song lyric was performed with gusto, making the pair a winning combination.
Both had different guises elsewhere in proceedings with Alex lighting up the stage as Luminaire and Matt bringing a softer edge to the role of the Beast and then as the handsome prince.
Helen Webster too had a dual identity as Belle’s playful puppy Scamper and then as the motherly Mrs Potts.
The tactic of calling on the pop charts for the show’s music and packing it with culture references and even a cameo from Peppa Pig meant ‘Beauty & the Beast’ was the perfect fit for its young audience.
A rousing finale of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Starships’ brought the show to a fantastic crescendo and sent the children back to school with a real spring in their step.
And for this not so young reviewer, it was the theatrical equivalent of a much needed morning caffeine fix.