Disclosure: We were invited to see this show for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.
This weekend we were invited to see Beauty and The Beast at The Anvil in Basingstoke. It’s one of our favourite theatres and we hadn’t been in so long – we were really looking forward to it.
The Anvil always has a panto – and one at Easter too – and we always really enjoy it. Before we even arrived we knew it would be family friendly and that we’d all have a great time. Plus, The Anvil is easily accessible, in the heart of Basingstoke Town Centre and with parking right next to the theatre.
We arrived just before the seating doors opened, friendly staff checked our tickets and we used the toilets and bought some drinks. The Anvil lets you preorder snacks and drinks, ready to pick up at a convenient collection point and they have a great range available – including some special Beauty and the Beast themed cocktails and mocktails too!
The Beauty and The Beast performance
The Beauty and The Beast show started in a burst of song and disco balls, setting the scene for the rest of the show. The set was beautiful, seamlessly switching French village to castle and even a dark and spooky forest at one point.
Everyone knows the story of Beauty and the Beast and the show was in keeping with the classic tale. But, it was also classic pantomime – with Polly La Plonk, played by Nick Wilton as the classic pantomime dame and plenty of he’s behind you and oh no he isn’t, oh yes he is moments too.
The characters were fantastic. With Belle, played by Maria Coyne, and her father played by Marcus Knibbs. Their relationship is a big part of the story and they both convey so much emotion in their scenes and songs. Maria has an incredible voice and she plays Belle wonderfully.
One of our favourite characters was the over confident and loud Hugo, played by Michael Quinn, who constantly had a swarm of women following him everywhere. He spent the whole show trying to marry Belle and she spent the whole show trying to avoid him and his affections.
Many of the jokes surrounding Hugo were around his accent. Words that sounded different when said in a strong French accent that changed the whole context of what he was saying. Most of his lines got laughs from the audience – especially when he started talking about a cat in French. Chat!
Joe McFadden played Beast perfectly. He was full of angst and pent up emotion. Looked after by Polly La Plonk and her son, Louis La Plonk, played by Chris Pizzey, they make a great trio who I’m sure would have lived happily in the castle for years together – with laughter every day!
The show has laughs in every scene and Polly and Louis make a fantastic double act, bouncing off each other. We loved the jokes and there was just the right amount of innuendo – with it all going over the children’s heads.
At 2 hours 20 minutes, including an interval, it was quite a long pantomime but our children, aged 8 and 10, were engrossed throughout. Young children of preschool age and younger did seem to lose interest during the second half so this may be worth baring in mind.
We loved Beauty and the Beast. The cast gave the performance their all, the songs were fantastic from old classic to really modern favourites and the choreography and costumes fit the show perfectly. It was a fantastic family show that we really enjoyed and we can’t wait to go back to The Anvil to see another show soon.
Beauty and the Beast is showing at The Anvil until 2nd January. Find out more and book tickets over on the theatre website.