Lichfield Garrick’s Theatre’s enchanting rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” transports audiences into a magical realm of laughter, music, and stunning visuals. This timeless tale of love and transformation comes to life on the stage, captivating spectators with a blend of exceptional performances and intricate production details. As the curtain rises, the spotlight falls on a world where fairy tales unfold, and the vibrant energy of the Pantomime genre takes centre stage.
Sam Rabone’s portrayal of Madame Fillop, the irrepressible Panto Dame, emerges as a comedic revelation, stealing scenes with impeccable timing and a flair for humor that leaves the audience in stitches. Rabone’s performance is a true masterclass in the art of Panto, blending slapstick comedy with a genuine warmth that connects effortlessly with viewers of all ages. His chemistry with Ben Thornton, who shines as the endearing sidekick Phillipe, creates a dynamic duo that elevates the comedic essence of the production.
Kat Chatterton’s Belle and Natalie Pilkington’s Cupid grace the stage with performances that strike a balance between grace and strength. Chatterton’s portrayal of the iconic heroine resonates with sincerity, while Pilkington’s Cupid adds a touch of magic with strong vocals that soar through the theatre. However, the challenge arises with Melad Himidi’s Beast, whose exceptional voice faces a hindrance in the form of a mask, affecting the clarity of diction. Despite this, Himidi’s commanding presence and vocal prowess manage to convey the emotional depth of the character.
The technical elements of the production contribute significantly to its visual splendor. Barry Smith’s Lighting Design emerges as a silent storyteller, illuminating the stage with a nuanced interplay of light and shadow that enhances the narrative’s emotional beats. The costumes, meticulously crafted by Morgan Large and Ella Haines, are a visual feast, with a special nod to Michael J Batchelor’s dazzling Dame outfits that add a touch of flamboyance to the proceedings.
While Paul Hendy’s script boasts strength in its narrative structure, Act 1 grapples with pacing issues that occasionally disrupt the flow of the story. Act 2, however, serves as a redemptive act, showcasing a more refined and cohesive pantomime experience. The ensemble cast, supported by a dedicated crew and creative team, collectively brings the production to life, creating a tapestry of laughter and heartwarming moments.
In conclusion, Lichfield Garrick’s Theatre’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a visual spectacle enriched by standout performances, creative brilliance, and a touch of theatrical magic. Despite minor pacing hiccups, the production succeeds in whisking the audience away on a fantastical journey, leaving them with a lingering sense of joy long after the final curtain descends.
Beauty and the Beast plays at the Lichfield Garrick until Sunday 7th January 2024. Tickets available here.
Photos throughout from Pamela Raith.