Beauty and The Beast
NIE and Tobacco Factory
A trip to Cambridge Junction for their annual Christmas Show is becoming something of a tradition here at Grapevine. With all of our theatres awash with Panto dames and double entendre, NIE & Tobacco Factory have produced yet another show devoid of the traditional vaudeville banalities.
Beauty and the Beast has been a mainstream Panto favourite for many years, even more so since the story got the Disney treatment. This production is very much an interpretation of the original French fairy tale ‘La Belle et la Bête’ written in 1740.
With half the audience placed traditionally in the auditorium’s seats and the other half sitting on what would otherwise have been the stage the action takes place in the middle. An interesting challenge for the actors who had to play to both halves, a challenge they rose to admirably.
There are just five actors on stage who not only act but also play instruments and arrange and re-arrange the set to suit the scene. The beast is played effortlessly by Martin Bonger who to begin with (before the curse) had a distinct air of Basil Faulty about him. The ugly sisters (Amalia Vitale & Carly Davis), and, no I have not switched stories, are ‘twins’ who are indeed ugly of heart and whose catch phrase ‘Oh shut up Daddy’ in any other production would be screamed out by the public.
Isabella (Sara Lessore) is Cinderella-like as the pure hearted, put upon sister who loves ‘Le Gite Terrible’, the woods and of course, ultimately The Beast. She is, in the eyes of the rest of her family ‘a very strange girl’ but comes into her own dancing on the beasts’ table.
Indeed, Sara and Martin are to be lauded for their dining room table dance routine, given that it was they that built the table before our very eyes.
And there is Jazz. The sound providing an undeniable rustic French feel to the entire production but especially so during the Chocolate Mouse song. Daddy (TJ Holmes) made good use of his accordion and double bass.
Christmas shows have come to be viewed as nothing other than Panto, a genre of entertainment which you either love or hate. Beauty and the Beast is cleverly produced, enjoyable and a refreshing change from the other shows. Don’t take our word for it, book your tickets here and see for yourself.
Beauty and The Beast runs until December 31st
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