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It’s A Beauty And A Beast!
Phil Hopkins, Arts & Travel Editor
Pantomimes that achieve success without the benefit of a big name or the kudos of the latest X Factor winner, have to rely on something a bit more tangible…... oodles of energy, enough corn to satisfy the Jolly Green Giant and lots of fun.

Which is why the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds now has its own loyal following, clearly the result of a tight-knit cast featuring a handful of ‘regulars’, adored by an equally regular audience who know what they want, and lap up the one liners quicker than a cat at the cream.

Jez Edwards as Philippe Philoppe in this year’s offering, Beauty and the Beast, is the archetypal ‘silly lad’ and is a bundle of fun, an essential energy ball who keeps proceedings moving, whilst Andrew Haynes as Professor Crackpot – as daft as his own inventions – is the silly old B who absorbs all the quips fired in his direction!

Before the Carriageworks this would have been regarded as a second-tier ‘Civic Hall’ panto – no big effects or big names – but still an essential part of the regional Christmas theatre offering, somewhere between the Alhambra’s big name production and the City Varieties’ rock ‘n’ roll panto.

Here we had one keyboard with drums and that is absolutely fine, because as the show continued I forgot about the minimal ‘orchestra’, and genuinely laughed as it got dafter and dafter. There was so much fun on stage that it was infectious.

The dame’s costumes were excellent and ten out of ten to Joe Standerline as Madame Cherie Trifle, not just for his sheer professionalism, but for all the changes; my goodness all the changes….there were lots, and all seamless! Fantastic.



Barbara Jaeson as the ‘baddie’, Witch Mauvaise, was a lovely actress and line perfect but, at times, I wanted her to be more ‘panto’ and milk the audience just a tad more. I also wanted her to stay in costume character at the final walkdown, not morph into a blonde haired glitter ball who looked as much like a witch as a member of Abba!

Also by Phil Hopkins...
Aladdin – Carpeting The Competition!
New LBA Airport Terminal Extension Poised For Take-off
Saucy Sinders & Her Double Entendre Crew!
Dracula – Theatre With Bite!
ROUEN’d By Luxury!

Few may appreciate that the director, Robert Wheeler is a Leeds lad and a graduate, many years ago, of the Jean Pearce School of Dance! He has travelled the world plying his trade as a dancer and, in later life, a director, and it is great to see him back on home soil chaperoning a talented cast and a young enthusiastic dance troupe – choreographed by Kevin Archbold – who integrated traditional and modern movement with smiling enthusiasm.

Usually there is a song sheet from which the silly lad conducts the audience in a singalong as sets and costumes are changed frantically ahead of the finale, however, it was a refreshing change to see something really simple in its place without any cumbersome props in sight.

This was a simple, fun panto. The tickets are most likely cheaper than many other theatres in the region, so if price and fun are consideration factors, then this is a panto I am able to recommend, because it has more groans than a 70 year old marathon runner with arthritis. A good eight on the laughometer!

Beauty and the Beast
Carriageworks, Leeds
Until 31st December 2018

It’s A Beauty And A Beast!, 1st December 2018, 22:10 PM