- Beauty & The Beast: The Savagely Silly Family Musical
- Elgin Theatre
- Now through January 2nd
- Review by Stephen Adler
It’s hard to believe that Ross Petty has been presenting, producing and starring in Pantomimes for 15 years. Before passing judgment about the newest version, I feel it is important to remember what the Panto is and/or ought to be. Traditionally families would go to the theatre to see fairy tales with song and dance which had been modified ever so cleverly to incorporate current pop culture into the script. A clever producer might even add or delete a line from the show during the run to keep it completely up to date.
Mr. Petty has mastered the art of incorporating pop culture into script. References to Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and others substantiate the fact that he does stay in touch and is au currant. May I suggest that this is perfectly accomplished with Beauty and the Beast.
The performances are, for the most part, above average. Single out Jake Epstein who was marvelous in his dual roles as Prince and Beast. Scott Thompson as Aunt Plinky, and Mr. Petty himself as Barnum von Cowell both brighten up the stage which is already beautifully lit. Forgive Melissa O’Neil as Bella. Her voice is powerful and worthy of her Canadian Idol win, but her acting leaves much to be desired.
Let`s get to the bottom line, shall we? Where ought we rank this season’s Panto? If simply injecting pop references into the script is all we need to do to activate applause and adoration, this version will top all. However, it is simply not enough to bombshell super poppers through the proscenium. One must be clever, funny, provocative, even naughty to create the double entendre which ought to dominate the art form. Of all the Pantos in recent memory this is one of the more lavish and attractive, but less stellar, of the 15 past years. Where it falls short is with what may be the most important signature of the Panto: clever writing, biting double entendre and wonderful music to make us feel happy to be in the theatre. Weighing the various components I am less than exuberant and will continue to seek Holiday entertainment elsewhere.