11:45AM, Thursday 14 December 2017
Over the years, South Hill Park’s has always been the benchmark production that I judge other pantomimes by.
Others have come close, but never surpassed.
And this year it isn't going to be any easier for the others, as this adaptation of Beauty and The Beast has picked up the bench and smashed it.
From the raising of the curtain, when a hilarious tap dancing panto horse joins Belle on stage to a terrific Errol Flynn-inspired sword fight, you just know you are in for another fun-filled feast of festive family fun.
This show is a delight and everyone involved should be as pleased as the Christmas punch for what they have achieved in a seasonal show that always has high expectations.
Director Adam Stafford has got together an excellent cast with beautiful vocals from Faye Ellen as Belle, a beast of a performance from Matthew Houston and some enjoyable equine antics from the likeable Tom Pepper.
Heather Wilson had her wicked witch mode turned up to 11 and Wilde Theatre Panto regular and favourite, Brad Clapson, as ever, shone in sequins, sauce and star-quality as Gabby the good witch.
Then there was Craig Rhys Barlow, for me, the star turn in amongst this galaxy of stars.
Playing Norbere for well-deserved laughs as a Welsh speaking, over the top French lover boy with more moves then Tom Jones on a roller-coaster, he stole every scene he was in.
Along with a great and enthusiastic chorus of youngsters, the as always creative talents of scriptwriter, Bart Lee, Music Composer, Ron McAllister, Musical Director, Tim Cumper and Set Designer, Victoria Spearing and the rest of the excellent crew, this is once again the panto not to miss this year.
It’s a beauty.
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