Newton Poppleford’s Riverside Players do it again with Beauty and the Beast

PUBLISHED: 12:30 16 February 2018

Beauty and the Beast performed by Newton Poppleford panto society. Ref sho 06-18TI 7259. Picture: Terry Ife

Beauty and the Beast performed by Newton Poppleford panto society. Ref sho 06-18TI 7259. Picture: Terry Ife

Archant

The Riverside players have done it again.

They put on a wonderful performance of Beauty and the Beast. A strong cast, super costumes, good lighting and special effects and great songs. One of the oldest of the traditional panto themes, this production moved from happiness to sadness and back again with seemingly effortless ease.

The Riverside Players’ annual pantomime is eagerly anticipated by its loyal audience and this one was a real treat from beginning to end with the traditional French setting leading to some wonderful accents! A lot of thought went into this production, with add-ons to the script, with the kind permission of the author Alan P Frayn, and some great touches that Tricia Barclay, the director, created with her usual skill.

Leonie Motler played Belle the Beauty with enthusiasm and much charm alongside Prince Danton (Damon Booth) and they complemented each other well.

Angelique (Di McKay) and Marianne (Julie Salmon) made a wonderful pair of sisters, selfish and constantly sniping at each other and everyone else, clearly relishing their roles. Stephen Knight did a super job, first playing the Devonshire yokel complete with Devon Glorious Devon and then (having been reminded that this was set in France) transformed into the local sex symbol Gustav, complete with a muscular bared chest.

Steve Yarnall as Madame Fifi was a triumph. Not the usual ‘dame’ role but making the most of his slender build played her as a slinky, dishy, sophisticated and archetypal French woman. His rendering of Crepe Suzette was memorable.

Gavin Haines as Marcel the very camp hairdresser gave it all he had got, with some very funny lines delivered well. His ‘Essex Girl’ assistant, Monique (Jenni Cardwell) really came into her own. What progress this young local actress has made since first appearing in the children’s chorus some years ago. Tim Ashford played the Beast with empathy and with a nice singing voice got it just right. Sacha and Distel (Dave Goldthorpe and Mark Gleeson) did well, bouncing off each other with some great lines. Harvey Cardwell as Alain was great.

Belladonna (Jane Ledwood Knight) took command as the wicked one as soon as she walked on stage and had the audience spellbound. Christine Horth as the good fairy Flora was well cast and clearly relished defeating the deadly Belladonna in the end.

The supporting cast and chorus did a fantastic job. The musical director John Griswold was as excellent as he always is. The trademark Job Song was a hit and the audience left the hall still chuckling and very happy. Mission accomplished. Roll on next year! Graham Liverton

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