Aylesbury Waterside Theatre’s 2019 Panto, Beauty and The Beast will have you belly laughing, ducking for cover and thoroughly entertained from start to finish.
I had my first ever experience of an Aylesbury Waterside Theatre panto this year with my 7 and 9 year old and wow what a performance. I’d had a little clue in advance that Aylesbury have their own special pantomime traditions as I was told people bring water pistols but we’ll talk about that later!
The classic children’s fairytale, Beauty and the Beast started with a transformation from man to beast played by EastEnders star Danny Walters. He seemed to change in a blink and before I could work out how they’d done it, the stage was fully lit up with Belle singing the opening song, Footloose. That got us all jiggling in our seats and set the tone for an upbeat, lively panto with chart toppers peppered through the show. My boys aren’t Disney song lovers so it was great to see that they were so engaged with the musical performances. They’ve been singing them at home since we’ve been back which at least is a break from Christmas carols. Belle, played by the talented Amelia Adams-Pearce has a fantastic voice and a smile that lights up the stage and was perfect for this role as was her father Clement played by David Alcock who was a wonderfully lovable character.
The panto follows the Beauty & The Beast story as we know it with believable characters, full scale choreography, musical performances and a lot of belly laughs. I’m not sure when I have laughed so much last and I loved that the audience were laughing together from the youngest kids to teens and the grown ups. For me, that’s just how a panto should be. Of course there are the jokes especially for the Mums & Dads, you’ll know what I mean when you go (the rabbit joke) but not so much that the kids are wondering what’s going on or asking you to explain.
Usually a panto has one or two funny characters but with Louis Pot et Pan, Polly Pot et Pan and Hugo Pompidou being natural comedians, you get the full works. French lothario Hugo, played by Michael Quinn cracked me up. He reminded me of Pepé Le Pew, the French striped skunk cartoon who was always after the the girls and never successful. His cheesy accent was great and he had us all laughing and booing.
International singer and comedienne, La Voix, takes on the traditional role of dame as Polly Pot et Pan and is such an obvious star. Not only is she hilarious but she connects with the audience and has an astounding voice. I assumed Andy Collins who plays Louis Pot et Pan would be a side kick but he’s a star on stage in his own right. Presenter on BBC Three Counties Radio breakfast show, he’s a natural in the limelight. The cast were all so great that it would be hard to pick a favourite but he was no.1 for my sons. We saw him coming out of the stage door at the end of the night and they were star struck.
The panto would of course not been complete without the Beast. The costume was in the words of my kids ‘awesome’ or perhaps we should say roarsome and Danny Walters skillfully took us on a journey from grumpy and slightly scary to falling in love with Belle.
I loved the whole show but one very unique Aylesbury panto traditional highlight was the 12 Days of Christmas. I had no idea what was coming but you could feel the excitement build among the seasoned visitors to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre’s pantos. They have a comedy version of this song each year and suddenly out come the water pistols from both on stage and in the audience. There were teeny water pistols all the way up to super soakers and as the water squirted everywhere, up popped a few umbrellas too. Hilarious audience participation like I haven’t seen anywhere else before.
Beauty and The Beast is running right through to 5th Jan but seats are booking out quickly so if you’re looking for a performance that the whole family will enjoy, this is the one to go to.