Beauty and the Beast smashes Rhodes box office
The Phoenix Theatre Arts’ production of Beauty and the Beast at the Rhodes this Christmas again surpassed all expectations, pushing the audience numbers still higher as theatregoers returned to enjoy yet another original and festive treat.
Written by producer Phil Dale and Conor O’Sullivan, the script stayed true to the story but as we have come to expect from this production team, it was given a modern twist. Directed and produced by Phil Dale, Technically Directed by RSC Director Michael Fentiman and lit by National Theatre Lighting Designer Elliot Griggs, the audience were taken on a journey from Gaston’s Karaoke Bar, through the darkness of the woods and our introduction to the Beast, to the Castle and the liveliness of the Servants Hall, and out into the light of the love that develops between Belle and the Beast. Driven along by a up to date songs and spectacular dance routines choreographed by local professional dancer Katie Barker-Dale, it was a feast for the eyes and a real treat for young and old audience members alike.
Local professional performers Maisie Humphreys as Belle and Buck Braithwaite as Gaston were joined on stage by 6’ 10” newcomer Paul Daley as the Beast. Headed up by local panto celebrity Sarah the Cook, aka Fanny Fromage, 40 other cast members, including Abbie Middleton as LeFou and George Jack as Belle’s father, as well as teams of senior and junior chorus, were drawn from the local community to produce, yet again, an original, fun-packed, family pantomime which has built a reputation for quality with great entertainment value. Indeed, this is a community pantomime at its truest, with the bespoke set built and painted in Takeley by local craftsmen, the costumes being designed and made locally, music produced in a local recording studio, even the wood and paint are sourced in Bishop’s Stortford. Our pantomimes are only made possible by the volunteers who give up their time over Christmas to chaperone our junior chorus and yes, they are the parents of the cast members and so, again, local people, to whom we are always very grateful.
As a company, we are proud of our local roots and that through this we can give the opportunity to so many people to be involved in something of which we are enormously proud. It really was a privilege to work on this year, an extremely enjoyable show due to the hard work, commitment, teamwork and humour shown by everybody involved. Some years it is somewhat of a relief to the production team to get to the end of panto but this year we can honestly say “Oh No it isn’t!”