Pantoland has been dormant for nearly two years, so what better way to blow off those cobwebs than an all-singing all-dancing extravaganza that’s bound to delight young and old.
In the magical world of Aberdonia, Belle is captured by a hideous Beast – free only when she teaches her captor that beauty comes from within. With the help from dame Bella Bucket, brother Boabby and Mrs Potty this hilarious adventure gives us the happy ending that we so desperately need after all this time.
“Good morning, fit like, my name is Belle” confidently declares Danielle Jam, the show-stealing local quine who will go onto save the day with a spring in her step, a killer voice and an assertive flourish in the face of boo-hungry Aberdeen Angus (Mark Wood).
In a pantosphere so crowded with subservient women who rarely see the spotlight, Alan McHugh’s incarnation gives Beauty a starring role – sharing the laughs as well as the drama.
In a similar way, Call The Midwife’s Laura Main breaks from the confines of sickly-sweet fairy and gets stuck into the comedy.
But our Belle’s not just saving the Prince (a last minute stand in from Liam Brailsford) from life stuck as a Beast – she’s also freeing Joyce Falconer’s Mrs Potty, the housekeeper at the castle. Falconer may be a late addition to this year’s cast but her Doric tongue rolls out some of the best lines in the show and her rapport with the audience is clear from the outset.
Across Scotland, Alan McHugh’s written scripts for nearly all of the biggest theatres – but it’s only in Aberdeen that he’s starring, as clumpy-legged Bella Bucket.
Bella’s not a bonnie dame but she’s still got her eyes on a man… or any man within reach! McHugh anchors the whole piece, keeping the pace up and throwing away lines that any dame would kill for.
This loon dressed as a quine is a firm favourite in Aberdeen, and it’s clear to see why. With Bella’s son Boabby (Paul-James Corrigan), the pair get up to some ridiculous capers in a riotous evening of song and story.
Beauty and the Beast is Aberdeen to the bone. Whether you’re brushing up your Doric (yes, they’ve rewritten it!) or emphatically singing ‘The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen’, you don’t need a map to remember where you are.
And by the time the Haribo and Irn Bru kicks in after the interval, the reserved Sunday audience gets right in the spirit as the curtain rises for Act II.
If you’re swithering about booking, the closing minutes are all the reason you need to come along. McHugh’s heartfelt thank you to his audience is followed by a community song that requires no cloot.
We’ve had to wait far longer than we expected to get back to Pantoland, but with a’abody together again it’s like we’d never been away.