Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Phil Hopkins
Arts & Travel Editor
9:00 AM 3rd December 2021

Beast Of A Panto!

With more double entendres than you might see at a European bondage fair, the City Varieties pantomime has got to be one of the funniest I have seen for many a year and is undoubtedly at the top of the leader board.

Throwing caution to the wind, and the wokies to the lions, front man and principal driving force of this two hours of madness, is premier dame Simon Nock as Bessie Bigbreaths, as near the knuckle a name as you will ever get!

And with a no holds barred script from Peter Rowe, generously laced with ad libs, cheeky asides and dubious double takes, this show was a riot from start to finish and none enjoyed it more than Dan on the front row.

“You are in for a long night my friend,” he was told within 5 minutes of the craziness starting!

This highly talented cast – and there were a number of regular returners – sing, dance and play all the instruments.

And such are the demands on their talent that most of them had microphone holsters attached to their costumes: say your lines, dance and then grab the mic from your waist for a full-on number!

Kenny Davies as Sir Peacock Beauregard, the dame’s love interest, is Nock’s perfect foil and is equally funny in that he doesn’t try to compete with the man in the frock: they feed off each other brilliantly.

And top marks to Hannah Price and Hannah Baker as Vanity and Luxury, Beauty’s nasty sisters: hilarious and hugely talented, each jumping between several instruments.

In some ways the title of any panto is academic because no two are ever the same. It is the spirit and energy of the people on stage that carry the production and the more fun they have, the more fun ‘we’ have. And boy, was there some fun in the theatre last night. Hilarious!

Conor Mellor as the Beast... took full advantage of his training on the cruise ships as a front man vocalist, to deliver some belting numbers and Grace Lancaster as Beauty was his equal match on the vocal front.

Not forgetting James William-Pattison, as the ‘silly lad’ Desperate Dan (no relation to the man in the front row), Lana Walker as Fairy Fortunate and Alice Gruden and Tim Roberts as Primp and Preen, the ‘brokers men’.

A belting night with a belting cast. Fun, dynamic, joyous and downright hilarious. Couldn’t recommend it more.

Beauty and the Beast
City Varieties, Leeds
Until Sunday January 9th