Production poster for Beauty and the Beast Pantomime at Malvern Theatres

Beauty and the Beast Pantomime at Malvern Theatres: Review

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Are you looking for a family friendly pantomime with plenty of laughs, lots of recognisable songs and some acting stars? Oh yes you are! Malvern Theatres Beauty and the Beast Pantomime for the 2022/23 season promises to deliver. Mark James is back to star as Louis La Plonk, with Melanie Walters (Gwen from Gavin and Stacey) as Fairy Bon Bon. This upbeat production manages to retain the story’s subtle dark side without becoming scary.

Beauty and the Beast Pantomime at Malvern Theatres: The story

A fun twist on the 250 year-old tale of Beauty and the Beast, the story starts with an enchantress who turns a handsome man into a beast. He lives alone for many years with no chance to break the spell, until Belle’s father Clement (David Alcock) wanders by with a painting.

Belle sets out to rescue her father and makes a bargain with the beast that she will stay if Clement is free to leave. In the Malvern Theatres version of the story, Belle has a fairy godmother, Fairy Bon Bon, who narrates the tale in rhyme at intervals for the audience. Mark James plays his usual role of a hilarious character with plenty of laughs. This year, he is Louis La Plonk. Leon Craig plays the Pantomime Dame, Polly La Plonk.

Old favourite scenes including the “it’s behind you” ghost skit make an appearance. Mark James’s latest take on “where’s me mates” and his annual, comfortingly familiar song are on hand to make the audience giggle too.

As Belle and the Beast grow to love one another, arrogant Hugo Pompidou becomes increasingly frustrated. When Belle returns from the beast’s home, Hugo proposes to her yet again and on being rejected, he sets out to fight the beast.

Melanie Walters as Fairy Bon Bon in Malvern Theatres Pantomime 2022 Beauty and the Beast taken outdoors with green grass and trees behind
Melanie Walters as Fairy Bon Bon

Beauty and the Beast Pantomime at Malvern Theatres: The cast and crew

At the end of Peter Pan Pantomime at Malvern Theatres last year, my eldest daughter was gutted when Mark James didn’t say he’d be back in 2022. Fortunately, this must have been an oversight because he was back with bells on. He’ll be making an appearance for Cinderella in 2023-2024 too!

Melanie Walters was a particularly pleasant addition to this year’s cast, her song about an omelette was a lovely nod to Gavin and Stacey. My husband and I were both a little disappointed that there weren’t more Gavin and Stacey references and jokes. Another famous face was David Alcock as Clement, he has recently been on TV screens as Field Marshal Jan Smuts in SAS Rogue Heroes on the BBC.

The rest of the cast:

  • Talia Webby as the Enchantress and a villager
  • Shaun Dalton as the Beast
  • Olivia Birchenough as Belle
  • Leon Craig as Polly La Plonk
  • Phil Atkinson as Hugo Pompidou
  • Oliver Ferro – villager
  • Chris Gray – villager
  • Kathy Bancroft – villager
  • Lily Dyde – villager
  • Beau Prance – villager
  • Cecilia Hall Dance Centre children were also dancing on stage

The crew:

  • Director: Lexi Ward
  • Choreographer: Cameron Macdonald
  • Musical Director: Tom Self
  • Production Director: Andy Batty
  • Costume Designer/Head of Wardrobe: Elizabeth Dennis
Beauty and the Beast Pantomime at Malvern Theatres cast with Mark James at the front taken outdoors with green grass and trees behind
The main characters

Beauty and the Beast Pantomime at Malvern Theatres: The verdict

We knew that last year’s performance of Peter Pan would be difficult to beat and for me, Beauty and the Beast didn’t quite hit the mark this year. It was, as always, a fantastic afternoon and we all enjoyed the performance. There were plenty of jokes for the adults in the crowd and the children all loved the fun, upbeat story, singing and dancing.

The performance did feel a little flat this year though, and I’m not completely sure why. Mark James was brilliant as always and it was a treat to see Melanie Walters and David Alcock but the cast didn’t seem to have the chemistry of previous years. The children dancing sadly didn’t appear to have had the opportunity to rehearse with the cast because they didn’t know their dance or where they were supposed to be. This is in contrast to previous years (pre-covid) when the children were an integral part of the performance and seemed as polished as the rest of the cast.

Would we recommend going to see Beauty and the Beast? Absolutely. It’s always a fun afternoon for all the family and this year was no different. In fact, the set is probably the best ever and the special effects were brilliant. I think Tom Lister’s performance last year as Captain Hook set that production apart as one of the best we’ve seen, so this year’s just didn’t quite live up to that incredibly high bar in my opinion.

What you need to know

  • When is Beauty and the Beast Pantomime at Malvern Theatres? The production runs from Thursday 8th December 2022 to Sunday 1st January 2023.
  • Where to buy tickets: Tickets are available from the Malvern Theatres website.
  • How long does Beauty and the Beast Pantomime at Malvern Theatres last? Around two and a half hours including the interval.
  • Relaxed performance: There will be a relaxed performance of the pantomime at 10am on Saturday 31st December 2022 at 10am.

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  1. Oh what a shame about the children – they really make quite a bit of difference. Was really odd at Cheltenham them not having any for me too. Sounds like it is still really great entertainment.

    1. Oh definitely, it’s always a great afternoon. I think Tewkesbury really sets the standard locally for the chorus with quite tough auditions and the children playing a big part in the show. It just surprised me a bit that it didn’t really look like they had rehearsed it. I suspect they’re letting all the kids from the ballet school have a go at being on stage rather than using a couple of dedicated groups who have the chance to learn it properly.x