The magic of pantomime – Beauty and the Beast at the Floral Pavilion

Halloween has just passed and Bonfire Night is almost upon us which means just one thing – it’s nearly panto season!

New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion is staging a sparkling, spectacular, spellbinding production of Beauty and the Beast that will guarantee fun for all the family. popped along to the Floral for a little chat with Belle, the Beast, and the rest of the cast.

Belle is played by kids’ TV favourite Olivia Birchenough.

Belle is played by kids’ TV favourite Olivia Birchenough of Channel 5 Milkshake! fame. “You’re there for the children, you’re there for the magic!”, she said of why she enjoys performing in pantomime. “Whatever tomfoolery goes on is fabulous! There’s nothing like it, it’s such a tradition, isn’t it? And this year, people want panto more than ever.”

Sean Jones plays Louis La Plonk, “He’s very funny!”

Sean Jones plays Louis La Plonk, “He’s very funny!” Sean says of his character. “He’s a little bit cheeky chappie, not the brightest tool in the box!” Sean tells us why he likes Beauty and the Beast so much; “The great thing about Beauty and the Beast as a panto is it’s got a really good story. Quite often in pantos the story’s sort of small, but with Beauty and the Beast, everybody knows the love story and [our performance] has a bit of a twist in the tale.” he said intriguingly.

The magical Fairy Bon Bon is played by Melanie Walters.

The magical Fairy Bon Bon is played by Melanie Walters, who is probably best known for playing Gwen in Gavin & Stacey. “Fairy Bon Bon is just there to oversee and make sure that everything goes to plan and to make sure that it all ends happily ever after. It’s a wonderful story and she’s just there to make sure that Belle is safe and well throughout the whole thing.” On the spectacle of the production, Melanie said, “You’ve got the beautiful story of Beauty and the Beast, along with all the songs and the dancing and the colour and the costumes and the fun, so it’s going to be so much fun for everybody. People missed it last year. We all missed last year. We’re all up for it! We’re going to bring you a fantastic show.”

“We basically have loads of fun running around creating chaos and mischief!”

Of course, no panto is complete without a fabulous pantomime dame and Quinn Patrick is fabulous, so that’s well and truly covered. Quinn plays Polly La Plonk. “She’s the holder of the secret of the beast, which the kids will find out at the end. So that’s quite exciting!”, Quinn said. “She’s lumbered with her son (Louis La Plonk), and we basically have loads of fun running around creating chaos and mischief!” What draws you to the role of pantomime dames? we asked. “I used to do ugly sisters and ugly sisters are villans. When you move over to dames, you’re a man in a frock who tells stupid jokes and you suddenly realise that people love dames!”

The Beast, played by Shaun Dalton.

We started with Belle and it seems right to finish off our chat with the other lead character, the Beast, played by Shaun Dalton. “This was always one of those roles that I wanted to do. It has that journey of being a baddie at the start – he’s quite scary – but you grow to love him from the beginning to the end as he’s becoming more and more human.” Talking of the performance, he said, “It’s just very colourful and there’s a lot of fun to be had and there’s the comedy as well. It’s a very well written script – it’s genuinely funny!”

Beauty and the Beast runs from Saturday 4 December until Sunday 2 January. There is a BSL signed performance on Sunday 5 December and a relaxed/autism friendly performance on Thursday 30 December.

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