Gallery: Review - Beauty and the Beast, by Peter Rowe and Ben Goddard, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until January 31

Adam Langstaff, Dan de Cruz and Ben Goffe in the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll pantomime Beauty and the B

Adam Langstaff, Dan de Cruz and Ben Goffe in the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll pantomime Beauty and the Beast - Credit: Archant

If only everything in life was so entertainingly reliable as the New Wolsey’s annual rock’n’roll panto then the world would be a much better place.

Nicola Bryan, Sarah Mahony, Daniel Carter-Hope, Lucy Wells, Adam Langstaff and Ben Goffe in the New

Nicola Bryan, Sarah Mahony, Daniel Carter-Hope, Lucy Wells, Adam Langstaff and Ben Goffe in the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll pantomime Beauty and the Beast - Credit: Archant

Each year I come away from the Ipswich theatre’s festive knees up with my head buzzing and my hands sore from too much clapping and thinking there’s no way they will be able to top that – but somehow they always do.

It’s a uniquely rewarding combination of knock-about pantomime silliness and supreme rock’n’roll audacity. It’s a comedy and it’s a genuinely thrilling rock concert with all the attendant noise, smoke and pyrotechnics.

Among the songs seamlessly woven into the surprisingly faithful storyline were such rock and soul classics as Sweet Child of Mine, Let Me Entertain You, Keep On Running, We Are Family, Someone to Love, You’ve Got Fight For Your Right To Party and You Can’t Hurry Love.

In true New Wolsey tradition the actors are also the musicians and they don’t just play one instrument they swap between three or four.

Eamonn Fleming as Dame Bessie Bigbreaths and Daniel Carter-Hope as Sir Peacock Beauregarde in the Ne

Eamonn Fleming as Dame Bessie Bigbreaths and Daniel Carter-Hope as Sir Peacock Beauregarde in the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll pantomime Beauty and the Beast - Credit: Archant

Although, writer Peter Rowe, musical director Ben Goddard and director Rob Salmon provide the building blocks it is the talented cast that really make this show sing.

This year they have a good mix of experienced rock’n’roll panto veterans and some fresh young faces. Lucy Wells made an impressive stage debut as Beauty and turned what could have been a sweet but rather insipid wallflower into a feisty young woman with bags of character.

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This was a huge relief because she was playing against the exceptionally strong Dan de Cruz who relished every moment he was obscured by his hairy horned-beast mask and head. His beast was a glorious combination of Ozzy Osborne and Robbie Williams.

The other stand-out of the evening was the tap-dancing, trumpet playing startlingly gymnastic Ben Goffe who last seen at The New Wolsey in Threepenny Opera. He punctuated his songs not only with a tap dance but with back flips as well.

He played Primp, the Beast’s attendant, opposite Adam Langstaff’s Preen. Adam is a regular at The New Wolsey having appeared in Miss Nightingale and Our House.

Other familiar panto faces include Esther Biddle as narrator Fairy Fortunate, Sarah Mahony and Nicola Bryan as the wonderfully shallow sisters Luxury and Vanity while Daniel Carter-Hope returns to the fold as their somewhat unfortunate father Sir Peacock Beauregarde who also reveals himself to be a stunning bass player.

This year’s Dame, Bessie Bigbreaths played by Eamonn Fleming, and her hapless helper Desperate Dan, played by Matt Jopling, are both panto virgins but you wouldn’t have known by the ease that they won the affections of the audience.

It would be so easy for The New Wolsey to turn their rock’n’roll extravaganza into a tired formulaic affair but full marks to them for always managing to keep the performances fresh, the jokes groan-inducingly entertaining and the songs powerful and lively.

Christmas is on its way and once again the rock’n’roll panto offers a fantastic foot-tapping treat.

Andrew Clarke

For our full round up of local pantomine fun, see our guides here and here

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