Beauty and The Beast

Daniel Buckroyd from 'the tale as old as pantomime'
Exeter Northcott Theatre
Exeter Northcott Theatre
to

There’s a gentle homegrown panto for all the family at Exeter’s Northcott.

Fabulous costuming, slapstick, banana muffins and plenty of musical numbers from across the decades (including a tremendous "Lips Are Moving" / "She" meld) and what’s not to like?

Singer-songwriter Sarah Moss is perfect daughter Belle who meets her Prince Charming (mellifluous Samson Ajewole) and all is looking rosy until the evil Nightshade (Anna Stolli) throws a hissy fit and things get all rather hairy.

With Cupid (Dafydd Lansley but gamely subbed by script-clutching writer and director Daniel Buckroyd on press night) in the wings, the battle is on between love and hate before the final rose petal falls.

A perhaps tad over-long first half sees much romping about Paris as Monsieur Marzipan (Steve Bennett) plummets into bankruptcy when his sugar ships fail to arrive tipping Instagram diva Soufflé (Francesca Pim) into shopping purdah (and much toffee) and plunging Dame Betty Bon Bon (Martin Ramsden’s alter ego burlesque star Bunny Galore) into ruin and rather a lot of outrageous outfits.

Zizzed up with spooky woods, ghosts, custard pies in the face and much ‘oh no you aren’t’, hissing and ‘behind yous’, a more reflective second half, ensures good triumphs over evil and inner beauty is set centre stage.

Mamma Mia! stalwart Carlton Edwards is directing in the pit with Exeter’s Sam Felton on drums and cosmopolitan guitarist Duncan Floyd.

Perfect festive fun.

Reviewer: Karen Bussell