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Vive le panto! Palace Theatre’s Beauty And The Beast is très Bon Bon…

Posted onPosted on 27th Nov

News Journal editor Tim Morriss and his young granddaughter, Evalyn, went along to an early performance of Beauty And The Beast at the Palace Theatre, Mansfield. Here is what they thought.

He’s back for an eighth panto season — and Mansfield’s adopted favourite funnyman has lost none of his zest for seasonal fun.

Adam Moss is again at the centre of the Palace Theatre’s annual seasonal performance, this time playing Louis La Plonk in Beauty And The Beast.

His comic timing, sideways glances, and overall energy, right from the start — a series of cheesy puns in the opening minutes set a hilarious tone for the night — made sure the show romped along at a furious pace.

Photos by Elizabeth Orridge Photography

But it would be wrong to single out ‘Bonjour Louis’ as the only star of this panto, even though his audience interaction is again spot on — would you dare to nip out for a comfort break and risk eagle-eyed Adam spotting your sheepish exit?

For all seven main characters gave very strong performances that left one theatregoer saying as the curtain came down: ‘You wouldn’t see better in the West End’.

And they were right! For as well as the usual panto merriment, aimed at all ages and high on audience participation, there was also drama, great singing, emotion, and a lovely underlying message that true beauty lies within.

Set in France — the perfect backdrop for many of the jokes, cheesy or otherwise — the panto soon sees Belle (Issie Davis) imprisoned in an enchanted castle by a prince transformed into a hideous beast (Shaun Dalton) by a sorceress. But can the Beast break the curse by finding someone who believes that what’s inside counts more than appearances?

The impressive Beast, with an imposing voice and fiery stage presence, is looked after in the castle by Louis and his housekeeper mother, Polly, played by Pantomime Awards winner Nic Gibney.

The dame’s costumes might not be as outrageous as some over the years, but Nic’s performance was memorable as Polly, along with the obligatory silliness, showed a caring side to bring out the best in the Beast, who eventually finds love with Belle.

Nic was a semi-finalist in Britain’s Got Talent last year as Harmony Hard-Up in the panto-inspired group, Damenation.

While we are on the subject of television, every good panto needs a fairy and Dani Harmer, Tracy Beaker from the hit CBBC series of the same name, wings in as Fairy Bon Bon — cleverly referencing how busy she is as the fairy in other traditional pantos,

As well as a fairy and a dame, there has to be a ‘baddie’ — and the posturing, would-be poster boy Hugo Pompidou (George Arvidson) was terrific, quickly getting youngsters too boo his evil attempts to marry Belle, take her away from her loveable father, Clement (David Alcock), and kill the Beast.

My highlights included the cast poking fun at themselves and the audience in the song leading up to the interval. Yes, we were ready for our ice cream and a comfort break!

Talking of sweet treats, just how many chocolate bar names can you cram into a short scene? The answer is enough to last a marathon (yes, I am showing my age!)

Panto wouldn’t be panto without a ‘he’s behind you’ ghost scene and Beauty And The Beast didn’t disappoint my young companion.

And don’t worry if you can’t keep up with the fast-moving show amid the laughter, for a couple of quick recaps were just the ticket.

Of course, with any panto some of the best bits are when things go wrong — and are then left in the show for the rest of the run — and when the cast surprise each other by deviating from the rehearsals.

Will Fairy Bon Bon’s wings drop off again? Will Louis La Plonk get stuck behind the scenery? To find out you will have to buy tickets and go along before the panto ends its run on New Year’s Eve.

We left with smiles as wide as a Cheshire cat — that’s my cheesy joke out of the way — with granddaughter Evalyn declaring: “That was great, the best night ever!” Exactly!

Beauty And The Beast runs to 31st December. Tickets can be booked at or by calling the Box Office on 01623 463133 or by dropping in at the theatre.