Beauty and the Beast is a tale which has very much returned into the public mind in recent months.
Many still regard the animated Disney film with great fondness and a live action adaptation of this, starring Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame, will be in cinemas in March.
With this comes an air of expectation among audiences to see characters and a story they have already fallen in love with treated with a high level of respect and panache.
Imagine Theatre’s latest Spa Centre pantomime offering does exactly this - providing a well balanced mix of romance and comedy without ever allowing either element to detract from the other.
The tale of the cursed prince and his redemption and rejuvenation at the hands of a beautiful and brave heroine also has touches of horror intertwined in its narrative and this is used to great effect in the show’s script.
The Beast evokes memories of a vampiric Meat Loaf in the I’d Do Anything For Love (But I won’t do that) video holed up in a haunted castle with only bats to do his bidding and a bloodthirsty pack of wolves as his neighbours.
If the presentation of the show’s story has wide appeal then this can also be said for its music.
Hits from the likes of One Direction give the fairy tale a contemporary while one heartwarming scene featuring the aptly chosen Iris by Goo Goo Dolls highlights how Carly Burns, as Beauty, and Matt Le Steer, as The Beast, display real skill in portraying authentic tenderness in their characters’ growing relationship.
JP McCue as the Dame and Sean Dodds as the sidekick son show why they were called back to be in the Leamington panto for yet another year by driving the humour and providing the important link between the cast and audience with their goofy gags and slapstick scenes.
Daniel Tawse, as the antagonist Eugene, also deserves a mention for showing a level of obnoxious yet endearing arrogance comparable to Prince Charming in the Shrek movies.
These performances combined with the fun, flair and laughter and moments of meaningful drama contribute to this pantomime being an example of a classic tale retold well.