REVIEW: Landmark performance for the Priory as panto hits the heights

Richard Ackland and Zsofia Preddle in Beauty and the Beast
Richard Ackland and Zsofia Preddle in Beauty and the Beast

Nick Le Mesurier reviews Beauty and the Beast at the Priory Theatre, Kenilworth

You’ll have to hurry if you want to see Priory’s spectacular Christmas show. The whole run is almost sold out. The lucky ones will not be disappointed. This is panto with knobs on; slick, funny, fast moving and bursting with colour and song.

Much credit must go to Priory’s artistic director Mark Jeffries, who directed the show and stars in it as dame Doris Do-it.

He is a master of improvisation a-la Lily Savage.

Then there’s Dan Kirk as Doris’ hapless son, Willy Do-it (you can guess the response from the audience). He’s like Mr Tumble on steroids. The goodies in this tale of redemption are completed by the beautiful Belle (Zsofia Preddle), whose singing and sheer loveliness tames the savage beast (Richard Ackland).

Then there are the baddies. Prince Eugene (Steve Vent) is vanity personified. He is served (if that’s the word) by his nincompoop valet Colt (Paul Sanders), whose comic facial expressions are an act in themselves. The whole magical tale is presided over by the beautiful Enchantress (Danielle Burrows). But if credit should go to the stars, no less must be said of the chorus of young dancers, aged from about five to 14.

Their dancing and singing were superb. And let’s not forget the wardrobe department: Dame Do-it, to name but one, looked gorgeous.

This is a big show on a little stage. The audience on the opening charity night included the very young and the very much older. Everyone found something to enjoy. It was a landmark performance and one of Priory’s best.

* Beauty and the Beast runs at the Priory Theatre until January 3. Call 01926 863334 to book.