The Theatre Clwyd pantomimes are legendary in the local area. It’s been a few years since I’ve been but I’m happy to say that it lives up to, and even exceeds all expectation. Tamara Harvey, in her first year as pantomime director, has kept to the winning formula and brought some festive cheer back to the theatre.
This year’s chosen fairytale is Beauty and The Beast. Christian Patterson (in his fourth year as writer) has spun the “tale as old as time” into a hilarious, magic-filled pantomime. With topical references to politics and local inside jokes, it’s fun, fun, fun for all.
This pantomime already separates itself from an overcrowded market. Rather than star castings, Theatre Clwyd has the actors play as the onstage band. With tunes like “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Uptown Funk”, you realise that the talent of the actor-musicians elevates this pantomime above its competition.
In this version Belle is a charming Northerner, (Izzy Neish) who, in a fresh take, fights her own battles and decides her own fate. Wesley Charles, as the Beast, has a hard task bringing seriousness to the show but comes into his own in the tender moments. The couple have a sweet chemistry, beautifully captured in their rendition of “Shallow”.
Be prepared for a lot of traditional panto interaction with the evil witch Morgiana (Alice McKenna) and bubbly Fairy Clogau (Maya Manuel). Both polished performances which deserve all the boos and cheers!
Also woven into the tale were the brilliant Nessa and Stacey (Lynwen Haf Roberts and Seren Sandham-Davies). Belle’s older sisters blasted through the door with brash Welsh accents, bringing the one-liners galore.
After receiving rapturous applause for their entrance alone, we are introduced to the legendary local dame, Phylip Harries. Nanna Nerys taunts the men of the audience, wearing a fantastic dress with hints of traditional Welsh folk attire and Mary Poppins. Crazy costumes and an even crazier sense of humour, Harries has the audience howling from beginning to end.
Another pantomime regular here is Daniel Lloyd, playing Belle’s struggling father, Willy. Lloyd and Harries as a couple are riotous fun, whilst Lloyd also impresses with soulful vocals and some epic guitar riffs.
It’s evident that behind the scenes, all departments have worked united on this production. The set is not extravagant, but the lighting, sound and design create a magical setting fit for every scene.
Barry Island, (Ben Locke) is flamboyant and as ghastly egotistic as you could wish for. Locke brings a fun eccentricity to the role and works hilariously well with his side-kick Bob (Luke Thornton). Lively, goofy and adorable, I selfishly wish we’d seen more of him.
I honestly don’t know what more you could want from a pantomime. The quadruple-threat cast exude brilliance in everything they do whether that’s nailing a song, getting a laugh, or playing a saxophone solo. The transitions from character to instrumentalist are so smooth, that you almost forget that this isn’t the norm.
I’m so happy that, after a year’s break, the pantomime has come back with a vengeance. Living up to it’s reputation and not letting the audience leave without a giant grin on their face, it’s a triumph. Now, where do I get my ticket for next year?
Beauty and the Beast continues until 15th January 2022 https://www.theatrclwyd.com/event/beauty-and-the-beast-2021
Reviewer: Coral Mourant
Reviewed: 24th November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★