BEAUTY & THE BEAST The Pantomime

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

14/12/2022 - 18/12/2022

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

01/12/2022 - 11/12/2022

Production Details

Adapted and directed by Gregory Cooper
Choreographer: Gemma Kearney
Musical Director: Hayden Taylor

From the producers of MADAGASCAR THE MUSICAL and the smash hit pantomime CINDERELLA, comes BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – THE PANTOMIME, opening in Christchurch on 1 December and in Wellington on 14 December.  

For strictly limited seasons in Christchurch and Wellington this December, this production is sure to make you laugh, cry and fall in love with a host of hilarious characters. Oh yes it will!

It’s the perfect build up to the summer holidays for all the family as well as an ideal event for your office do this Christmas. Tickets on sale now via Ticketek and Ticketmaster from $55.65.

Adapted by ingenious writer and director Gregory Cooper (That Bloody Woman, MAMIL, Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella) this version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will have more twists and turns than a snake with an itch!

The story follows Belle (Erin Wells, What Now!) after she is imprisoned in a castle with a hideous Beast (Justin Rogers) and a number of magical characters all entrapped under the spell of the wicked witch. Can the Beast break free from the terrible curse? Will Belle outwit the wicked witch? Can she fall in love with the Beast before the last petal falls from the enchanted rose? Oh, yes they can!

Justin recently provided the voice for Timon in The Lion King: Reo Maori and as Oaken in Frozen Reo Māori. He has enjoyed working across stage and screen with highlights including Shortland Street: The Musical, The Cherry Orchard, The Master Builder, The Last Five Years. He’s toured Indian Ink’s Mrs Krishnan’s Party throughout the United States and Canada multiple times, clocking up over 250 performances as DJ Jimmy J.

One of Aotearoa’s national treasures, the award-winning entertainer Ali Harper will play the castle’s head housekeeper Mrs Potts. With a career spanning more than 30 years, Ali’s career highlights include Blood Brothers, Mamma Mia!, Legally Blonde, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, A Shortcut to Happiness, Side by Side by Sondheim, Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in Paris, Calendar Girls, Jerry’s Girls, The Rocky Horror Show,Tell Me on a Sunday, Yesterday and A Little Night Music.

Playing Sydney the Wicked Witch of the West is the exceptional triple threat talent, Hillary Moulder who audiences will recognise her from last year’s box office smash-hit production of Jersey Boys as well as roles in Ladies Night, A Streetcar Named Desire and A Christmas Carol.

Playing Alexandra the Good Witch of the South is something Rebekah Head is no stranger to beastie storylines, having starred as Glinda in three separate productions of the Tony Award winning musical Wicked.

As Belle’s father and mad inventor, Maurice, Edwin Beats is a star of stage and the small screen, with theatre credits including Jesus Christ Superstar (Court Theatre), Billy Elliot the Musical (Auckland Theatre Company) and TV credits including Hope & Wire and various sketches for Jono and Ben.

Returning to pantoland is Trubie-Dylan Smith who will play the outrageous Seymour Bottom. His previous Court Theatre credits include The Princess and The Frog (and The Robber!) and The Wind in the Willows. As the artistic director of the Court Jesters he can often be seen appearing in Scared Scriptless. His other theatre credits include He Kura Kōrero (Circa Theatre); The Bald Soprano (Arcade Theatre Company); King Arthur (Rollicking Entertainment Ltd); Red Riding Robyn Hood and Shakespeare As You Write It (New Zealand Playhouse Tour 2018).

Relive this timeless classic jam-packed with panto antics, heroic deeds, glittering costumes, crazy comedy and dazzling special effects.

This sparkling new imagination of the enchanting fairytale is set to delight families.

Christchurch 1 – 11 DECEMBER

Wellington 14 – 18 DECEMBER

Brylee Lockhart, Tiahli Martyn, Zoe Lynch, Gemma Kearney, Campbell Richardson, Bryn Monk, Nicole Wilson, Olly Humphries, Isla Palmer, Holly Palmer, Amelia Nicholls, Poppy Brown, Bronte Allpress Goudie, Molly McDowall, Romy Smith, Maddison McDonald.

Family , Musical , Theatre ,

High energy, joyful, faultlessly on point plus non-stop dad jokes and a dog with a bladder condition

Review by Deborah Rea with Luna Rama and Dev Rama 16th Dec 2022

Wellington’s children’s theatre offerings are fast becoming an embarrassment of riches. The latest treat for my hip-high theatre-lovers is Beauty and the Beast. The pantomime comes to us from Christchurch, written and directed by Gregory Cooper.

We follow, mostly, the usual story with added heroes in the form of Alexandra, The Good Witch of the South (Rebekah Head), and Belle’s confident, go-getter sister, Tynes (Caleb Jago-Ward), and the Beast’s jester, Seymour Bottom (Trubie-Dylan Smith) along with his little dog Snifter who seems to have an untreated bladder condition. Our witch takes the form of Sydney, Wicked Witch of the West (Hillary Moulder).

Beauty and the Beast features an almost show-stealing ensemble who are high energy, joyful and faultlessly on point throughout all their many numbers (Choreography by Gemma Kearney). Belle (Erin Wells) and Beast (Justin Rogers) are picturesque lovers with strong vocal performances and iconic dance moments.

The star of today’s performance is Edwin Beats, in the role of Belle’s father Maurice. Beats delivers near non-stop rollicking dad-jokes while trotting along on a cello.

It’s usual in panto for the traditional heroes to take a bit of a backseat but this script leaves them just a little too vanilla for me. I miss Belle’s spirit and her famous intellect. I miss the prickliness of Beast. A few of the jokes and pop culture references go over my head but that’s not unusual. The audience is eating it up and we all enjoy getting involved.

The costumes and set are beautiful, especially the stunning town square and palace. Also, the show has a flying pegasus and, while performing the song ‘Firework’, they let off actual fireworks. Al bacio!

Dev Lyndon Rama (aged 4:

I liked the good witch because her wings can light up. I like the guy what had jingles on his hat because he was so funny. The dog was funny because he weed on the witches face. Hahaha! It was so disgusting, haha. Haahahahahaaaaahahahahaaaa

Luna Rama (aged 6):
The witch cast a spell on the Prince because they were in a fight. It made him into a Beast and made the servants into teapots and cups and cookies and a candle. Beauty and the Beast married each other. I like that the dog was funny because he weed on the witch’s face. I liked the good witch’s costume that glowed. I liked Belle because she was so pretty and sang nice songs. The show was so pretty. Pretty costumes, pretty set, pretty music. I liked the guy who played the piano (Hayden Taylor) because I watched him play almost the whole time.


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Funny and fantabulous fairytale spreads the joy

Review by Emily Mowbray-Marks 03rd Dec 2022

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light. From now on your troubles will be out of sight…”

Director/Writer Gregory Cooper casts a spell over 2022 with his dream-big production of this all-time classic Beauty and Beast. This extraordinary GMG Production lightens the audience’s hearts and with a flourish of the conductor’s baton our troubles are out of sight, as we ooohhh and ahhh, and cheer and boo, and dream of wearing a tiara and owning a castle, and having legs like Tynes’ (the drag queen sister) and ultimately being someone somebody can love. Yes folks, this show has something for everyone.

The audience is made up of primary school aged children and their grandies, rainbow and straight couples on date night, Christmas work party colleagues and, in my case, a couple of tweenage gals and a nearly nine year old son (oh an edible 9 month old features at the end of our aisle too). I’ll admit I see a couple of kindy kids slumped over the shoulders of wahine toa in the ice-cream half-time break, but all in all the audience are super-charged by this Christmas silly-season Pantomime.

A melodious “Nau mai, haere mai” welcome from the narrator greets this Ōtautahi 700 full theatre. She’s all ‘ablaze’ (Issac Royal) tonight, with her ornate cream and gold balcony boxes (where Statler and Waldorf would’ve sat and jeered, yet surely this show would’ve transformed their grinch like ways particularly after witnessing the good witch’s luminous rainbow fairy light hero-cape).

Later, Seymore Bottom gets us replying to his “Kia ora” in imitation and I dance a little happy dance when our dismal response to his Kia ora call finds us being asked to do it again (better) and yes we can Ōtautahi, give a Kia ora to this delightful Aotearoa production.

Why go see this colourful musical theatre pantomime you ask?

One tweenager says,  “It’s extremely humorous.”
Another says, “My favourite character is Tynes.”

I love Tynes’ costume and make-up designer. Tynes, played by Caleb Jago-Ward, is show-stoppingly witty, gorgeous and up-staging in all the nicest possibility of ways. She/he/they remind me of an award-winning my little pony: all those pearly pastel colours, on lips, cinched waistline, stilettos, lids, lashes and even in the bouncy my-little-pony-like-wig. They’re a 6ft+ Christmas dream come true.

Nearly-nine-year-old loves the jokes, and when questioned, confesses he thinks the Beast’s commedia dell’arte mask has too many warts.

The Tynes-loving teenager also holds Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ number as a highlight, and tells me this as she gloatingly eats her Roses chocolate the actors have thrown her way during a lolly scramble to open Act II.

Highlights for me – mid-lifed mother of three (apart from the actual performances which I’ll get to in uno momento) – are the set, costume, cringey slash lovable ‘dad’ jokes, and special effects.

The glossy and decadent programme doesn’t share who the artist is that painted these backdrops, of tudor villages, ornate castles and Euro-courtyards. But the autumnal colours are romantic and help us forget the Christmas (end of year)  to-do-list. Chris Moreno is the mastermind responsible for set & costume hire, so perhaps he/she/they deserve applause for sourcing such delight.

The costumes are clever, whimsical mostly, all except my other tweenager’s favourite character, Sydney the wicked witch – played deliciously well by Christchurch’s Hilary Moulder. The market place of villagers reminds me of a scene from the ballet Coppelia, except for the refreshing ‘pop’ of converse low tops danced in a range of colours. Very funky. Ngā mihi nui Costume Designer – Tina Hutchison-Thomas. We love a twist on a classic. And OMG, get out of town, Mrs Potts’ tea-pot costume is to die for – complete with dry-iced steam-embellishing Ali Harper’s adopted lisp. The tea-pot fills the imagination of our tamariki when the shrewsburies (with red sequin jam centres) dance around her.

My all time favourite performance of the night is Rebekah Head’s as Alexandra the good witch (although I do love the fact Maurice’s actor Edwin Beats could actually play the cello and rode it, drumming it, for the hoof fall of a hack). But, back to Head – what dreamy voice work; she must be a voice over artist, advertising giants must love her. She epitomizes good: hauora and soothing. Her pale pink hair and complementary rainbow fairy light hero-cape complete the fantasy.

And maybe, of course, The Beast (played by Justin Rogers) and Belle (played by Erin Wells), the lovers, are what you’d expect. Plain. Old. Good. What we want and what we love. Easy to watch. Enchanting to look at. Good.

Gregory Cooper (who I happen to stand next to in the ice-cream and pringles line at half time) has written a clever script which draws from topical and local events, jibes and wero, whilst also harking back to slap-stick and often-adored audience participation. The archetypal characters, played by favourite Christchurch actors such as What Now’s Erin Wells, Christchurch theatre icon Ali Harper and many a NASDA graduate and/or Court regular, break the fourth wall and play with such complicite, they personify and spread the fun they’re having.

Lighting Designer – Paul O-Brien – thanks for the glitter ball bonanza, plus the fireworks, plus the starry starry night fairy light midnight backdrop for moments to emphasise the magnetism of our heroine Belle (the Beauty) who only sees the beauty on the inside of someone, not the outside, and finds herself finding love with the Beast.

Some lowlights you say?

Did I say oldest tweenager LOVES the character Sydney, who dons a take on the velour matching-tracksuit? Well I do too. Her character embodies a slippery snake, accentuated with a twisting, body roll like physicality, wide flashing eyes (made more dynamic with heavy black liner) and spindly stereotypical-witch-fingers, that she conjures with, at the end of long stretched up arms, elongating her presence to further imitate this aforementioned reptile. Her jokes are gold. And Moulder’s performance in the curtain call has me LOL in an unstoppable way where I can only look at her. There’s a strong Kath and Kim reference as this Westie-Witch heralds from Sydney, Australia.

If you’re born in the 70s and early 80s you’ll love the old-skool flashbacks and appearances of characters such as Jase and thingy. And the back-drop with the trees, where have those trees starred in before? Fraggle Rock? Labyrinth? Badjelly the Witch? The Neverending Story?

Whilst raving about the success of Sydney, in Act I, I may not be hip enough to recognise the song Sydney sings with the skeletons (whose strange padded costumed faces I don’t think succeed either), but the song seems incongruous with the rest of the show. It’s neither recognisable nor cohesive as a song.  I’m sadly not convinced and would be happy to see the scene axed. I’m not a fan of the angular Pegasus, but when it takes flight, it redeems itself somewhat.

Aside from this, and the strange zombie choreography that accompanies the, “Kill the beast, kill the beast” section (which again could be a spoof on something that goes above my head), I say gather your people and take them to the theatre to experience this phenomenal pantomime and production of Beauty and the Beast. Take time to find and spread the joy, before this funny and fantabulous fairytale sells out.


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