Review: Beauty and The Beast, Arts North Norfolk, The Atrium, North Walsham

Beauty (Krissi Jae Kitson) and young friends in a scene from Arts North Norfolk's production of Beau

Beauty (Krissi Jae Kitson) and young friends in a scene from Arts North Norfolk's production of Beauty and the Beast. Picture: SAM ROBBINS - Credit: Archant

It was like the very best Christmas pudding – full of all the right ingredients in generous proportions.

Beauty and the Beast, the first Arts North Norfolk (ANN) Christmas show at the Atrium, proved to be a magical hit with adults and children alike.

The classic fairytale was told with some clever and inventive updates and certainly hit the right notes with its Thursday, first-night audience.

After two years of non-panto shows at Christmas, writer and producer Joseph Ballard scored a major success with his latest work.

Comedy (some unintentional), good singalong material, an impressive set, good technical effects and more than a little fairy dust worked their magic in the traditional way.

And of course there were plenty of chances to cheer the goodies, hiss and boo the baddies, and to shout out 'Behind you!'.

Newcomer Paige Miller as Fairy Florence not only got the show off to an impressive, engaging start but maintained a high standard of comedy, scripted and improvised, and charm throughout.

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Paige, and Atrium regular Krissi Jae Kitson, as Belle, were very good singers and obviously proved popular with the audience.

Krissi also showed some adept dance steps in more than one scene.

Roy Gould brought long TV and stage experience to perfect his role as Belle's father Walter and worked especially well in the 'crowd' scenes – surrounded by youngsters on stage – and as comic foil for the other principals.

A natural sense of good stage-timing helped Atrium volunteer Colin Cushion give excellent performances as both the town crier Boris and the butler turned into a dog.

Joseph Ballard was a 'booming voice' but appealing Beast and rightly gained Belle as his Beauty,

Joseph should also be congratulated for attracting the vivacious Titania Trust to play the villainous Queen Titania – a more scary character than the Beast for many in the audience.

The village children, played by members of the Arts North Norfolk drama club (for 8-13-year-olds) and the Queen's Chorus, played by menbers of the young people's theatre company, all proved enthusiastic and promising members of many more ANN shows to come.

Impressive technical and magical effects were courtesy of 'Uncle' Kevin Barnes and Cameron Pitts and the enthusiastic audience was readily forgiving of a few opening-night glitches which added to the show's overall appeal.

A few tickets are stil available for this weekend's Saturday's afternoon and evening shows. Details from Arts North Norfolk on (01692) 218060, or from www.artsnorthnorfolk or call in at 1 Market Place, North Walsham.

Brian Gaudet

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