Burnley mechanics Visit: April 2016
The Easter panto Beauty and the Beast by Anton Bensons productions featured at the Burnley Mechanics it was an eggstravaganza and really was not a night to be missed. Beauty and the Beast may be a tale as old as time, but it was brought into the twenty first century with a comical bang or as Basil would say “Boom Boom”!
Recently, pantos have gone beyond the line when trying to please both children and adults within the audience. However, this production really did strike the right balance between family fun with an appropriate mix of subtle adult humour and slapstick comic capers. The Panto was the typical comic cliché based on a fairy tale that included all the common characters expected…oh no it didn’t….oh yes it did!
There were definitely a few standout performances. King Keith ‘Cheggers’ Chegwin cheered up the audience and created comic moments throughout the whole performance with no dips in his levels of enthusiasm. What can I say…he is a natural!
The heroine role of ‘Beauty’ played by Eva McKenna, typically a pretty young woman who’s character had the usual expected mix of traits – Feisty, clever and of course kind hearted. However, Eva presented an unexpected surprise, she was vocally strong and really pulled the performance together and up to the next level – True talent and star quality!
The baddie role was played by Anne Hegerty Star of the ITV show The Chase, she encouraged audience Boos and effortlessly embraced the Enchantress role with ease. Anne really personalised her performance throughout by cleverly addressing the cheers of her on looking fans in the audience with script personalisation.
Dame Dolly played by Sam Rabone, a larger than life character that adorned the usual panto accessories such as heavy makeup, extreme lashes, wacky wigs and loud outlandish dresses that would stop any one in their tracks. Sam’s performance really did raise the roof. Lucky, to be seated on the front row with my plus one Mark, who really did not know what Dame Dolly had in store for him. Mark was to be part of the performance without prior preparation or even a rehearsal and it was definitely alright on the night! Dame Dolly focused her affections on Mark throughout the evening’s performance that not only provided the audience with extra comic amusement, but also personalised the performance for us and gave us a real unique experience that we feel lucky to have been a part of.
A fun ‘chocolate’ scene during the performance was acted out by Dame Dolly and Wally. It included a lot of comic twists and ‘twirls’. The scene really was a hot ‘topic’ and you did not need a ‘breakaway’ as the characters were focused yet fun, did not need ‘time out’ as they did not get tongue tied and definitely did not get their ‘snickers’ in a twist. For this scene alone the show tickets were worth every ‘Dime’.
Technically the plot ran consistently throughout all scenes, as it should do in any good panto. The Comedy was well balanced and included contemporary current jokes, along with local themed humour and the traditional slapstick scenes with all the usual drama, including bananas, water guns and giant inflatable balls. Music was a mixture of tradition such as ‘Danny boy’ mixed with classics such as Michael Jacksons ‘thriller’ to really get the audience upbeat, alive and kicking. Both the duet between Beauty and the Beast and Beauty’s solo performance engaged the audience’s emotions that not only strengthened the plot, but moved the story seamlessly forward. There was a full house on the evening and the employees at the mechanics really did do an eggcellent job. Staff were friendly, focused and organised which in turn led to us having both a fun and relaxed evening.
Initially, I did have my reservations about the performance, thinking it may be tacky or lack the edginess of a high budget theatre production. How wrong could I have been, this pantomime production was definitely no joke. It was a fun filled, action packed Easter pantomime with an all-star cast that included high octane dancing, singing, music and comedy. One highlight, I am sure for both young and old alike was that the production starred none other than Britain’s Brilliant Basil Brush. A fun filled evening was had with much laughter, giggles and comic moments where sadly the curtains had to finally come to a close. I am sure for the cast of the beauty and the beast panto it may be a case of, ‘it’s behind you…’, but I know that there are good things to come and look forward to your upcoming performance of Robin Hood.
The All Star Cast:
Anne Hegerty as the Enchantress
Keith ‘Cheggers’ Chegwin (King)
Basil Brush the Beast’s Servant
Sam Rabone as Dame Dolly
Eva McKenna as Beauty
Ben Sherlock as the Beast/Prince
Lizzie Frances as Fairy Tale
Ryan Greaves as Wally
Michael Winsor as Beauty’s father
Thank you for reading 🙂