Review: Beauty and the Beast Panto at Mercury Theatre, Colchester

(PR Tickets) Beauty and the Beast at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester is a cleverly crafted pantomime with humour for children and adults, romance, mild peril, singing and dancing. With bright beautiful sets, strong voices and a new take on a well loved story the audience left with smiles on their faces.

We were invited to see Beauty and the Beast at Mercury Theatre, Colchester

Beauty and the Beast at Mercury Theatre Review

Set in "Colchesterre" the somewhat familiar sounding sweetest village in France it follows the adventures of Belle, her brother Almondé and their Mum as Cupid attempts to ensure Belle and Prince Friedrich fall in love despite the interventions by Spite (the baddy).  It was written by Andrew Pollard and directed by the Olivier award-winning Donnacadh O’Briain.

The full ensemble of Beauty and the beast panto at Mercury Theatre Colchester, press image
The cast at the end of the panto. Photo credit Mark Senior

We had a great time, but if you are thinking of booking I have a few warnings:

The website recommends the panto for age 5 and upwards and I know my nearly 4 year old would have been scared in places (if you want a panto for younger children check out my review of Harlow Playhouse's Cinderella). With a run time of around 2 1/2 hours (including interval) some of the younger children were a little restless towards the end. 

We attended the matinée and the Dame, Betty Bon Bon, made a few jokes that were a little close to the line. There was also the suggestion that the humour is even more risqué in the evening performance which means it's likely to be absolutely filthy in some of the performances that are listed as 18 plus. However the ruder bits went completely over my 6 year olds head and I suspect that if the child is old enough to understand the joke they are probably old enough to hear it. You might get a few questions afterwards though.

A dame with pink hair, pink gloves and a skirt full of balls on stage at Mercury Theatre Colchester
Betty Bon Bon is the Dame played by Anthony Stuart-Hicks. Photo credit Mark Senior

Adults will enjoy spotting the numerous references to films and songs from musicals to 90s pop. Of those that I spotted and remember there were references to the Titanic and Star Trek, song bursts from Dear Evan Hansen and Les Mis and major songs (with altered lyrics) including Meatloaf's I Would Do Anything For Love, Alanis Morisette's You Oughta Know and Shakespears Sister's Stay (if you can remember the video you can guess when this song comes in). There was also the obligatory it’s behind you, oh no it’s nots, a really fast list song and sing along section (sweet Caroline).

This really enjoyable panto is on at Mercury Theatre, Colchester until 15th January.

Belle and the Beast get cozy (press image)
The Beast and Beauty. Photo credit Mark Senior

Cupid performing some magic to make everyone understand French (press image)
Cupid wants to complete one last mission so she can become human and fall in love. Photo credit Mark Senior

Spite and her children? Side kicks? Hench people? Press image
Spite with Toadstool and Hemlock. Photo credit Mark Senior

Useful to know 

  • Mercury Theatre sell various flashing toy lights (£7), puppets (£4 to £12) and programmes (£5) before you go in. You can also buy drinks, snacks and ice creams (in the interval) including Vegan Magnums and lemon sorbets.
  • There are lots of booster seats you can pick up at the entrance of the auditorium as well as tiered seating so you don’t need to worry that little people won’t be able to see.
  • They do shout outs near the end eg for birthdays, if you want to try to get one fill in the form linked to on the event page. 
  • Nearest parking is St Mary’s (CO3 3AA) which is only a few minutes walk away.
  • There is very low ticket availability remaining so book asap.
  • Mercury Theatre is in Balkerne Gate, Colchester CO1 1PT 
  • Principle cast members:
    •     Belle - Alexandra Barredo
    •     Prince Friedrich/ Beast - Daniel Jagusz-Holley
    •     Cupid - Sasha Latoya
    •     Spite - Jaimie Pruden
    •     Betty Bon Bon - Anthony Stuart-Hicks
    •     Almondé - Dale Superville
    •     Toadstool/ Male Understudy - Nick Brittain
    •     Hemlock/ Female Understudy/ Dance Captain - Shelby Speed

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