Beauty and the Beast Panto at Epstein Theatre

Disclosure - We were invited to watch Beauty and the Beast for the purpose of this review. 

When I was younger it was a Christmas tradition of ours to go to the pantomime. We would make a whole day of it by going to see Father Christmas, out for our tea and then an evening at the Pantomime. When I heard about the Epstein Theatre hosting an Easter pantomime I thought it was a little strange because I have always associated pantomime with Winter and Christmas time. However since I have been an adult and a mummy I have only ever been the panto once, a few years ago. I had forgotten just how good they are. I love everything about pantomimes, the 'he's behind you' and 'oh no he isn't..." Its a great family day out so even though its springtime and not a Christmas tree or fairy light in sight we headed into Liverpool to enjoy the show. 

beauty and the beast pantomime advert

Although I have been up and down Hanover Street many times I have never noticed the Epstein Theatre. I actually googled it before we went and read it has been open since 1913. There is just a doorway on the corner of the street and once you go up the spiral staircase you are greeted by a truly authentic theatre and auditorium. It really is a hidden beauty. 

Beauty and the Beast was the Easter pantomime and I recognised the names of a few of the cast. Alison Crawford as Belle and Ritchie Neville as Anton ( Gaston from the Disney version of the movie). As the stage was so small I was unsure how the this would work as there was a large ensemble of children and young adults as well as the seven main cast.

beauty and the beast pantomime
Our seats were centre to the stage and we had a great view. After looking round it was obvious that all seats had a great view and the theatre is very intimate and cosy. 

Unfortunately John and little J were unable to attend so it was just big J and I. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The casting was perfect. Belle (Alison) has a lovely voice and I remembered her from the TV programme Grease is the word. Ritchie (Anton) is from the newly reunited 5ive. I am still a huge fan of 5ive and have seen them live twice over the last few years after their 'Big Reunion' I think he played the part perfectly and had me laughing every time he came on stage. He didn't even need to speak just his walk and mannerisms had me giggling. 

As expected there was a bad guy ( or in this panto it was a girl) Countess Champagne and a panto dame, Miss Dolly Doughnut. The countess has an amazing voice and one of the highlights for me was her performing 'A spell on you.' Another highlight was Miss Dolly Doughnut, very very funny and I loved the innuendos and adult humour. Big J is old enough to understand a few and I found him laughing to himself.

The story pretty much followed that of the Disney film although it was the Countess who had cursed Prince Pierre to look like a beast as he would not marry her. She was the perfect panto villain with an amazing voice. Anton spent the entire performance trying to woo Belle although as we all know she falls in love with the beast. Dolly Doughnut was the Beasts cook and had me laughing throughout. 
Loopy Louis was one for the kids. He was the village idiot and was in love with Belle. He threw sweets into the audience and every time he arrived on stage the kids had to shout 'Bonjour Louis'.

The second half saw the story come to a halt as the cast sang a 'If I was not in pantomime...then I would rather be' song. This saw Anton and Dolly Doughnut use water pistols to squirt the audience. We actually got soaked as we were in the firing line although big J thought this was hilarious. 

There were a few technical hitches especially regarding the microphones but they were rectified quickly and I'm sure these little hiccups will be sorted out for future performances. 

Afterwards we had a very brief meet and great with the cast. I was really looking forward to having a photo with Ritchie although they were called away quite quickly but I assume they were tired and needed a rest before the next performance later on.

Overall we had a really good time and although I thought a Easter pantomime was slightly strange  it was thoroughly enjoyable.


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