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Beauty and the Beast is this year's panto at the Sheffield Lyceum, I was really excited to see it as I had never seen Beauty and the Beast as a panto before and Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite Disney movies so I was interested to see what a panto version would be like.

Bessy Ewa (Belle), Max Fulham (Phillipe Fillop) and the ensemble in Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Sam Taylor.

The show has been written and directed by Paul Hendy and tells the story of a young prince who is cursed by the evil Nightshade (Kate Roddy) and turned into a Beast (Aidan Banyard). The prince is given a rose and if he can't learn to love and get someone to love him before the last petal falls, he will die. The Beast plants the rose in the forbidden forests and gets a pack of wolves to protect it. Belle (Bessy Ewa) is a young girl who lives with her mother Madame Bellie Fillop (Damian Williams) and brother Phillipe Fillop (Max Fulham) when her mother and brother head out to go and sell her mother's inventions Bell is told that she has to stay behind Belle is not happy with this an decides to go after them and have her own adventure. Whilst travelling through the forest Madame Bellie Fillop and Phillipe Fillop bump into Danton (Duncan James) a vain man who wants to marry Belle (but Belle is not interested). The three of them end up discovering the beasts castle where they meet a number of enchanted objects. When the Beast discovers them in his castle, he is not happy and wants to take them as his prisoners. Belle then arrives and tries to save her family and the beast wonders if she could be the one that could break the curse. Will Belle save her family and break the Beast's curse? you will have to buy a ticket to find out. The story is narrated by Jenny Dean who plays the character Cupid, Cupid is trying together Belle and the Beast together so that the curse might be lifted.

Duncan James (Danton) and the Company of Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Sam Taylor.

As well as a great story there is lots of panto fun that happens too such as a ken cam which scours the audience for a man for Bellie Fillop and if you are picked you get to be he love interest for the rest of the show. There are also water gun wielding wolves which run up and down the stalls spraying the audience with water. There are also the old Lyceum favourites such as the wheelbarrow of rapid-fire puns and of course the Lyceum bench makes an appearance. The show has lots of audience participation and throughout the show there are lots of topical a local references and regional puns and there were a few digs at the local towns of Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley.

Damian Williams (Bellie Fillop) and the Company of Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Sam Taylor.

The set designed by Morgan Large was bright and colourful and the costumes were fantastic especially the costumes for the enchanted objects, my favourite was La Bougie the candelabras costume as it was very detailed. Madame Bellie Fillop's costumes were amazing very flamboyant, colourful and unique. Belle Ballroom dress looked very glamorous with lots of sparkle and the beasts costume was also very good especially his mask.

Bessy Ewa (Belle) and Aidan Banyard (Beast, Prince Henri) in Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Sam Taylor.

The show had some great musical numbers, I loved the fact that they didn't just use pop songs and included some musical theatre songs in the set list as these songs really showcased the amazing voices of the cast. My favourite musical number of the show was the end of act one song "You will be found" from the musical Dear Evan Hansen.

Aidan Banyard (Beast, Prince Henri) and the ensemble in Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Sam Taylor.

The cast for the show were just fantastic and they all worked really well together. The amazing Damian Williams played Madame Bellie Fillop, Damian's actually been doing pantomime at the Sheffield Lyceum for 16 years and it shows as he was absolutely hilarious, he was really great with

the audience and I thought he worked really well with Max Fulham who played Phillipe Fillop. Max Fulham is a comedian and ventriloquist who has a monkey puppet called Gordon who was an excellent addition to the cast. Damian and Max had a really good comedy double act going on and they bounced off each other really well with Damian challenging Max on his Ventriloquism skills getting him to do stuff that he knows he struggles with. I thought the two of them were excelled together and I really enjoy their performance.

The Company of Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Sam Taylor.

Duncan James played Danton who is the Gaston type character except in this version he's not really a villain he's more of a comedy character. I thought Duncan played the part really well he was funny, a bit camp but it worked well for the character. I thought Duncan did a great job and his vocals were really good I really enjoyed his rendition of "I'm just Ken" renamed "I'm just Dan".

We then had Jenny Dale as Cupid who blew me away with her amazing vocals,

Bessie Ewa played Bell and I really enjoyed her take on the character she also had great vocals and I loved the fact that that she got to sing "confident" as it is a song which features in the musical &Juliet which Bessie was in. Aiden Banyard played the Beast/Prince Henri and I have to say he had the most amazing voice and I loved all his vocal performances and his acting was fantastic as well and I think he was the perfect choice for the role. The Ensemble cast members were absolutely brilliant, they had a lot to do as they played multiple parts did all the dance numbers and they were the ones running through the audience spraying them with water.

Bessy Ewa (Belle) in Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Sam Taylor.

I loved this panto, it is probably one of the best pantos I have seen, it's hilariously funny, has a great story, some fun audience participation, great songs and a very talented and funny cast. I have to give this panto five stars and if you can get to Sheffield you need to get a ticket and see this show as it will just brighten up your day.

Beauty and the Beast is running at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield until Sunday 7th January 2024

you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

Photo Credit - Sam Taylor

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review


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