TheatrClwyd’sRock’n’Roll Panto is a staple in the festive calendars of families across the region and ours is no exception. Its recipe for success is stunning sets, couture costumes, laugh-out-loud lines laced with local references, a dollop of double entendre, a smattering of smut, a cup of Cymraeg, tonnes of talent and a mass of great music.
In this incarnation of Beauty and the Beast, the cast of characters is adapted and expanded to accommodate an ensemble cast that complement each other well. Belle’s sisters Nessa and Stacey bring lightness and hilarity and some fabulous costumes to almost, but not quite, rival the dame’s in their extravagance.
A talking Mona Lisa and Laughing Cavalier, accompanied by some familiar rodent puppets, are the supporting cast at the Beast’s creepy castle.
The Gaston role becomes Barry Island, played by Ben Locke who has played the more likeable of the villains for the last few years. Barry is no exception, a big-headed buffoon who elicits more affectionate laughs than boos and performs a great version of Uptown Funk with sidekick Bob, played by Luke Thornton. This is perhaps an apt moment to praise choreographer Annie-Lunnette Deakin-Foster for her contribution.
Thornton, who also plays Hewolf, is a real staple of TheatrClwyd’spanto cast and although he plays the comedic companion to perfection, my daughters and I felt perhaps it is time he’s promoted to one of the key characters, as his performance is always impeccable.
Newbies Alice McKenna as Morgiana the Witch and Maya Manuel as Fairy Clogau narrated between the scenes, reciting their rivalry in rhyming couplets. Each of their costumes was beautiful, and Alice McKenna sang a kick-ass rendition of Bad Reputation.
Of the core characters, Izzy Neish was a quirky and refreshing Belle, with a beautiful tone to her voice that sounded heavenly when dueting with Wesley Charles as the Beast, also known as Daniel DeRuff, and Daniel Lloyd who played her father Willy. Charles had a lovely singing voice and played a beast that you could empathise with.
Local talent Lloyd is a Rock’n’Rollpanto veteran along with Phylip Harries who plays the dame, Nanna Nerys from Nercwys. I was pleased to see Lloyd’s voice, which fans of Daniel Lloyd a Mr Pinc already know is stunning, given more of a showcase this year. Harries is nothing short of a delight, raising the roof with his physical comedy, banter with the audience, Welsh lines and beautiful and crazy wigs and costumes.
Never mind Belle, the set itself is a thing of beauty thanks to designer Adrian Gee and scenic artist Katy Salt, all lit to perfection in a design by Johanna Town. One of the highlights was the library that so captivates Belle, and the theme was even carried through to the audience space where the ceiling was festooned with pendant lights in the form of books.
Unsurprisingly, the music is the standout element of the Rock’n’Roll Panto, with each cast member able to play at least one instrument and sing to extremely high standards. The medley of classic hits included Total Eclipse of the Heart, She Wolf, and It’s Raining Men, where the lyrics were changed in a nod to our local night spot “The Tiv’s the place to be”.
Beauty and the Beast might be A Tale as Old as Time, but TheatrClwyd certainly put its Rock’n’Roll stamp on it, making for a fresh and fun night out.
Photos by Kirsten McTernan
Beauty and The Beast runs until Saturday 15 January 2022. Booking is available at Theatr Clwyd’s website www.theatrclwyd.com or by calling 01352 344101.