THE auditorium was packed with excited children and their parents, all dressed up in panto garb, for the first Sunday matinee of the Poole Lighthouse Beauty and the Beast, based on Andrew Pollard’s script first seen in Salisbury in 2018.
Adapted and directed by Chris Jarvis, back at Poole as Dame Betty Bon-Bon, it also owes a huge debt of gratitude to the late Chris Harris, whose inspired routines run through the show.
It’s a delightful confection whipped up around the story of a prince cursed into a menacing beast by a jealous and spurned suitor, and a man who steals a rose from the beast’s garden and is forced into sending his daughter Belle in his place to placate the beast. Of course, love, in this version personified by Cupid, is in the air – literally.
The cast is led by Michelle Collins as the baddie Nightshade, making the most of her killer heels and constant references to her previous life in Albert Square. Tom Mann is a charming Cupid, winning over the audience from his first appearance.
Before he can shed his wings and wed Belle’s social media star sister Soufflé (Georgia Grant Anderson) he must engineer the romance of Prince Valentin (the charismatic Wade Lewin) and Belle (Alice Rose Fletcher). All this as M Marzipan (Ross Ericson) keeps his fingers crossed that his shipsful of sugar land safely in Poole, where Valentin (now transformed into The Beast) has his castle.
There is lots of audience participation with a difference and the perennial ghost routine is also nicely altered for variety.
The show was clearly a great hit with the audience, full of songs they knew, references they picked up, and enough topical and lightly political jokes to give an extra giggle.
It’s colourful, full of invention, sweetie jokes and fun for all the family, and it’s on until 31st December.