Friday, 6 December 2019

REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast at the Theatre Royal Newcastle


Danny Adams is a Five star Pantomime comic and circus clown and is now well established as the star in the Newcastle Theatre Royal annual Christmas Pantomime having this year reached his fifteenth consecutive production at the venue and is joined as usual by his father Clive Webb (the straight man of the double act) and for the thirteenth year by the Dame, Chris Haywood under the continued direction of the prolific Michael Harrison. The Geordie audience know what to expect and lap up the familiar routines and shout outs but this year they appear to take few risks to the established formula that they know works.

I first saw Danny Adams and his father in the 2004 Pantomime at the Regent Theatre Stoke on Trent and he made a big impression as a natural comic, the archetypal cheeky chappie and silly Billy. He appeared to combine classic circus skills with traditional music hall style delivery and was always centre stage. Fifteen years on the comic skills are well practised and everyone in the cast becomes his stooge or feed as the whole show revolves around him. In some ways this year's title does not lend itself to this approach and too often one finds oneself comparing the rest of the show to Disney's version of the story. There are nods to it in the excellent costumes especially for Dick the candlestick (Steve Arnott) and Tock the clock (Recce Sibbald) as well as in Belle's (Laura Evans) yellow ball gown but the famous music is all missing and the story itself stripped back to become the link between a wide range of set piece routines for Danny Adams as Danny! Indeed his own brother Michael Potts now joins in the family affair as a sort of Ben Warris character, the daft half of a famous musical hall act. 

Adams gives us cod trumpet playing routine to start before facing the Trunk of Truth which neatly strips him to his underpants. The three then deliver a huge set piece slosh scene to clean the statue (Potts) with step ladders, a see saw and buckets of coloured slosh. It is clearly an expected feature of an Adam's Pantomime. He also borrows three routines from Matt Slack who is equally established at Birmingham Hippodrome with the flag routine , muscleator and a brilliant twist to the songsheet and delivers them all with great timing and charm. However it is his knife throwing routine which really impresses with real jeopardy amongst all the clowning. 

Harrison and choreographer Alan Harding do include two excellent colourful routines to open each act with the ensemble of eight and young performers and use the centre down stage trap for entrances and exits as well as the dying rose of the curse but there is not time to really develop the other characters or interaction between them. There is a good "brush up your Geordie" (from kiss me Kate ) and "DISCO" with showgirls in between Adams routines to provide more musical highlights.

The Twins FX supply one large scale special FX of a wolf with bright yellow eyes to scare the kids and Flying by Foy float the Enchantress (Nicola Meehan) into the fly tower to good effect with a smart transformation of Chris Cowley from Sebastian to the Beast on his throne. Yet like the big Pantomimes at the Palladium, Birmingham and Southampton it would be great to see Adams stretched and developed with greater production values around the show. 

This is a good value Pantomime, loved by the Geordie faithful and Adams is the star turn throughout and they have already announced next year's Humpty Dumpty title at the same venue but I would like to see him on a grander scale in 2021 so that yet more can see this talented young comic.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★

Price of Ticket: £36
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