Beauty And The Beast

All Saints Dramatic Society  Corpus Christi Parish Centre, Boscombe Jill Richmond 12 January 2024

ASDS is a fantastic group whose energy is infectious and who never fail to be welcoming. Their supporters had turned out in great numbers and across generations for opening night. A true family feast.

There are refreshments and raffle tickets available at the start and refreshments during the interval along with the raffle draw. There is plenty of time to admire the informative and well-presented programme, available for a donation. This pantomime of Beauty And The Beast is scripted by Simon Fox, a former member and son of one of the Trustees of the group, and it does not disappoint in its family humour, local jokes and is as professional as it gets. A live band compliments the action on stage perfectly with beautiful performances from each member, particularly Steph Murchison on the woodwind.

The scene is set and as the curtains open we meet Morgana, the evil witch, who is played flawlessly by Victoria Liechti, a strong performance that punctuates a lively energy onto the stage in every appearance. Jenni French provides the light elegantly and is perfectly cast as the good witch Goodfaith. Without ruining the story, a spurned Morgana curses Prince Phillipe and in doing so he is a prisoner and Beast of his own castle, waiting to find his “true love” in time. Bethany Sivewright is convincingly gentle and brave as Beauty, providing a performance that any young girl would look up to. Sam Sheppard plays the Beast with exceptional talent, his stage presence and physical acting is truly professional with his ‘Monster Mash’ and ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ stand out performances.

Within the Beast’s castle we meet Dame Potty (John Sivewright) and Scotty Potty (Stevie Drogemuller) who provide laughs with every appearance. A wonderful duo that transport you straight to West End Panto. John Sivewright has comedic talent and timing down to a tee and whose performance will stay with you long after the curtains close. Stevie Drogemuller played the audience well and showcased their pedigree and experience on the stage to the fullest.

Karen Kelly as choreographer allows the dance and singing sections to bring a fresh energy to the stage and all the big numbers are visually brilliant. Sadly, the sound on opening night did appear to have a few issues which impacted a few of the numbers, particularly early on. There didn’t appear to be any opening night nerves and the prompt may as well have gone home!

Mary (Renée Claude) and Garston (Latayan Richardson) work well together as Beauty’s friend and “a traveller” respectively. Renée Claude has beautiful stage presence and a strong voice, although those at the back may have missed this on opening night with the microphone issues. Latayan Richardson was perfectly fun and flirty, and her warm energy shone through.

The Villagers and Junior Chorus support the cast well with their enthusiasm. Jon Cockeram as Mayor communicated confidently with the audience and performed well. Brian Foley as Dr Herb and Father to Beauty was heart-warming and honest. The scenes with Rabbit (Sue Josey) and Squirrel (Yvette Phillips) are wonderful and experienced performances that delighted all ages. I would suggest though perhaps a little more house lighting for stage exists for woodland creatures. The lighting is atmospheric and in the most part on point. The costumes and make-up are excellent, often getting laughs all on their own.

The casting was brilliant and all the ingredients are there for a fun night out. With, at the time of writing, just three performances left get yourselves there as quickly as possible!

Saturday 13 January at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm; Sunday 14 January at 2:30 pm

£15 Adult; £12 Concessions; £8 Child and £39 for 2 Adults and 2 Children

[Editorial: Also further performances on Friday 19 January at 7.30 pm and Saturday 20 January at 2.30 pm & 7.30 pm.]