Qdos Pantomimes Present Beauty and the Beast,
***** 5 Stars
“Beauty and the Beast is a slice of the West end on stage in Edinburgh,”
For the first time since 1946, Beauty and The Beast is back as the King’s pantomime and what a triumph it is. A much-anticipated panto classic was expected but for the regular panto trio of Stewart, Gray and Stott matters took an unfortunate turn with Andy Gray having to withdraw due to ill health. However, with Gray’s blessing the show must go on and my word what a show it is!
Telling the tale as old as time of a Prince Callum who ignores the wishes of a poor beggar woman who is an Enchantress (Jacqueline Hughes) and cast’s a spell leaving him as The Beast, living in Auchtereekie Castle with Mrs May Potty (A sublime and on the top of his form Allan Stewart) when Belle (Gillian Parkhouse) arrives at the castle with her inventor brother Dougal (Daniel Cullen) she finds herself falling in love with the prince inside the beast. The only problem is the evil Flash Boabby (Grant Stott, outdoing himself this year) a vain malcontent has set his sights on Belle and the story is set for the most spell binding of Pantomimes.
Beauty and the Beast is a unique panto as its completely plot driven but in the magical hands of Allan Stewart and Grant Stott the King’s annual extravaganza reins supreme. High lights include an ingenious front of cloth “Sushi” gag that has the audience in hapless laughter. A pure belter of “sing the lyric” sketch all mixed in with the big song and dance numbers.
Allan Stewart shows just why he is regarded as the country’s best dame, he has truly upped his game this year working at a phenomenal rate kicking off with a twist on the Greatest Showman’s “This is me” as he rises from the depths of the pit of the kings! His comedy timing is on point especially in the inventive shopping trolley gag. Stewart also shines in some impressive frocks, Aunty May is indeed in fine fine form. Stewart is matched in comedy foil by Grant Stott who is given extra stage time this year especially in the comedy sections. We even get to see a flash of his Boabby behind a fig leaf in a clever strip routine.
The ensemble also gets to shine especially Parkhouse’s “Belle” who is cast into the sushi gag and almost makes it all the way through without laughing. Cullen’s Dougal the Inventor is used sparingly but does allow the show to have one of its legendary flying effects produced by those boys at Twins FX’s.
Qdos’s set truly sparkles under Matt Clutterham’s Lighting and with Richard Brookers impressive sound design the production boxes are ticked in style. Director Ed Curtis along with Choreographer Alan Harding assisted by Sharon Harding have taken the challenge of loosing a start of the show and delivered a show which ranks right up there with the London Palladium.
Beauty and the Beast is a slice of the West end on stage in Edinburgh, and the magic of pantomime truly sparkles, Allan Stewart should be justly credited for helping to create an ongoing golden period of pantomime as he also writes the show. Audiences will always remember those wonderful days of Stewart, Gray and Stott! And worry not the three are back together in 2019 as Goldilocks and the Three Bears has been announced already.
For now don’t be a beast, get to the King’s and grab those tickets for a Beauty of a pantomime!
The King’s Edinburgh and Qdos Pantomimes present “Beauty and the Beast”, The King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, Runs until Sunday 20th January 2019. For tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/beautyandbeast