Dear Mummy, Christmas is nearly here and that can only mean one thing PANTO!I adore visiting the theatre and have been attending with my folks since I was very small.
It’s been a tough couple of years for the live entertainment industry and we wanted to do what we could to support one of our local theatres. We were invited to The Anvil, in Basingstoke and visited a couple of years back to see one of their other shows and enjoyed it immensely.
The Anvil really is a beautiful theatre with lots of space inside to move around, its all open plan on the lower level as you enter. It hosts a large foyer donned with Christmas trees, a bar area with lots of seating, an amazing programme and souvenir shop designed to look like Beast’s Castle, a great snack and hot drink counter and more break-away seating in the corridor. This allows for great social distancing.
On arrival we were greeted with a bubble machine and festive trees creating a very Christmassy feel. There were no queues and our tickets were scanned quickly when we arrived and all the staff were polite and helpful. Apart from having to wear a mask it seemed all very normal. People had donned their festive jumpers and Christmas frocks and it was lovely to see other families come together to celebrate the Christmas Spirit and see the show.
Toilets were signposted and super clean with hand sanitizer stations dotted at the doors and entrance to the auditorium. Our seats were fabulous with a great view and lots of legroom. The set was impressive with a built castle framing the stage and steps within both turrets, allowing performers to gain access.
The theatre was half empty on our visit, which allowed people to move seats and stretch out a bit more and allow for even more social distancing if needed. It was a relaxed performance and we were mesmerized by the BSL interpreter who sat at the side of the stage. It was lovely seeing the cast interact with her too.
We did have to wear masks inside at all times (due to government guidance) unless we were eating and drinking but it wasn’t a bother, as we’re all used to wearing masks now to protect others. It was a good temperature inside and well ventilated. The lights weren’t turned all the way down and there was a chilled atmosphere with children shouting out during the performance and interacting with the cast during the show.
Beauty and the Beast and is a well-known story made popular from Disney’s interpretation. Even though this panto version didn’t follow the same format as Disney (we won’t ruin it for you) it was equally as enjoyable.
The Anvil’s Beauty and The Beast panto stars the very talented:
- Joe McFadden as Beast / Prince (Strictly Come Dancing Champion/Holby City)
- Chris Pizzey as Louis La Plonk (Basil Brush Show)
- Maria Coyne as Belle
- Nick Wilton as Polly La Plonk (Eastenders)
- Michael Quinn as Hugo Pompidou
- Marcus Knibbs as Clementines
I loved the hilarious characters of Polly La Plonk and Louis, The Panto Dame and her son, which really made the show for me and had me in stitches the majority of the time. My folks liked the occasional nod to the Disney version with the tongue in cheek jibes about not needing all the cutlery to perform a song and dance at teatime!
Belle had an amazing voice and she had everyone on the edge of their seats when she danced with The Beast in her famous yellow dress. We loved all the props and costumes and the moving set was pretty clever, shape-shifting seamlessly. The Beast’s transformation at the end was magical and even I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief by how they had done it without CGI!
The performance was packed with jokes and plenty of innuendos. I enjoyed the recognisable songs such as Ed Sheeran’s Shivers with new lyrics and the famous bench scene in the haunted castle which had the audience screaming “it’s behind you”.
Without giving too much away at the end of Act One, a Les Misérables tune made an appearance much to the amusement of my folks who started to join in! It really was a highlight for them and the singing was on point by the whole cast!
The show was 2 hours 20 minutes long including the interval but went really fast because the pantomime was jam-packed with singing and dancing which kept us all enthralled. Dave and his band mates were so talented and it was clear to see they had a great stage presence with the cast!
Seeing a pantomime is definitely a sure fire way of getting in the Christmas spirit and makes a great family trip. We loved watching this pantomime and would definitely recommend it. Beauty and The Beast is running at The Anvil until January 2nd 2022, you can get tickets over on their website here.
If you’re in Hampshire and you have the opportunity to see this Christmas pantomime, you won’t regret it! Oh yes you will, Oh not you won’t!
Love Bella x
Disclosure: We were kindly invited down to The Anvil to review Beauty and The Beast, photos credited. All thoughts and photos on the day are our own.
Other pantomimes we have seen at Anvil Arts: