When the curtains go up this weekend on The Georgian Theatre Royal’s celebrated pantomime, it will be a production a long time in the making.
Beauty and the Beast was scheduled to run last Christmas but the theatre had to postpone the show due to the pandemic and then subsequent redevelopment of its auditorium.
However, the wait is now over and the pantomime will open tomorrow and run until Sunday 9 January 2022 with a total of 56 performances.
“We all really missed the pantomime last year and we welcome our audiences back with open arms,” said Clare Allen, the theatre’s chief executive and writer and director of Beauty and the Beast.
“Pantomime is one of our country’s great traditions and an important part of many families’ Christmas celebrations.
“Indeed, we get people travelling to our theatre from far and wide and it is an event that embraces everyone from great-grandparents to tiny tots.”
Beauty and the Beast has been a long-anticipated show. Work started in Spring 2020 before everything ground to a halt and many people have had their tickets since then.
“We are sure the show will be well worth the wait,” said Clare.
“Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as pantomime itself and this production is particularly beautiful, with an amazing set, stunning costumes and, of course, lashings of family humour and quick-fire jokes.
“We can’t wait to share it with everyone and there is the added bonus of the new, comfortable seats.”
Leading the cast is new dame, Nick O’Connor. The Liverpudlian actor is no stranger to the Georgian Theatre having delighted audiences as the deliciously evil Abanazar in the most recent production of Aladdin (2019), Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (2018), and the lion in The Wizard of Oz (2017).
The transition from baddy to dame is a road well-trodden and the same path was taken by the Theatre’s previous dame, Gary ‘Gacko’ Bridgens, who bowed out in 2019 after ten fantastic years, with the first four of these playing the bad guy followed by a six-year run as dame.
“Being given the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of panto legends Dominic Goodwin (the Theatre’s first dame from 2010-2012) and Gacko is both exciting and daunting in equal measure.
“All dames are played differently and this presents an exciting opportunity for a complete shift in style.
“However, I now understand how David Moyes must have felt taking over from Alex Ferguson at Manchester United! But unlike David Moyes, I know I will have the warmth and support of the Georgian audiences to help me along the way,” said Nick.
Another popular Richmond pantomime actor returning to the Beauty and the Beast line-up is Alex Moran who played the part of the genie (aka Freddie Mercury) in the 2019 production of Aladdin. He will be taking on the roles of Lumiere, Cogsworth and Ridgeley.
Appearing as Belle is Lucy Carne who will be playing opposite Ben Andrew taking the part of the Beast and Prince. Completing the acting line-up is Marcus Jones as Gaston.
Finally, providing the all-important musical accompaniment is musical director Daniel Bowater and musician Alastair James – reprising their roles from the most recent Richmond production of Aladdin.
The chorus is made up of three groups of talented young performers – drawn from local schools – that have become a mainstay of this popular family-style of pantomime.
Beauty and the Beast runs at The Georgian Theatre Royal from 3 December 2021 to 9 January 2022.
Tickets cost from £12 to £22 and are available from the Box Office on 01748 825252 or via the online booking service on the theatre’s website: www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk