Beauty and the Beast take centre stage once again in Bourne End this month, when the local amateur dramatic group the Forum Players stage their annual panto.

Our reviewer Sandra Carter checks out their latest offering.

This version of the well loved tale, scripted by the Players’ own Emily Plumridge, brings in all the favourite elements plus a few creative tweaks - such as a young apprentice to the evil Enchantress who has his own ideas of good and evil.

It’s very much a family show - by families, for families - and all ages gel together brilliantly on stage.

So 13-year-old Charlie Jones, a regular performer at the panto, is confident and winsome as he faces up to the wonderfully nasty Enchantress (Becca Fisk).

Young children are a delight as they dance and sing.

Star of the show, Rachel Davison, never fails to delight as the sweet-natured Belle, while the Beast, David Wells, draws gasps as he strides onto the scene: a huge creature, huge voice, huge presence, with a very effective costume complete with wild mane and horns.

Zoe Hopson is impressive as the handsome and insufferably vain Glaston Berry.

The Dame, Graham Dearing, is always funny yet endearing.

In the castle scenes, it’s hard to rival Disney when it comes to dancing spoons and talking clocks, but they have a good go with youngsters dancing as


Emily Plumridge and Tracey Huxley are brilliant as the candlestick and the clock with faux French accents.

The rest of the townsfolk and the Dame’s two sidekicks keep the momentum going, while the two narrators, Wendy Keeble and Angela Telfer, indulge in a ding-dong verbal battle throughout.

A special credit goes to The Bourne Again Shadows on keyboard, guitars and drums, whose live playing excels from light jazz before the show to backing the singing throughout the show.

A community show like this draws in lots of enthusiastic help, and the backstage teams have done a great job with set design, lighting, sound and costumes.

Now in their 51st season, the Forum Players have shown once again what great talent is lurking in our communities.

Beauty and the Beast continues on Saturday, January 25 at 2.30pm and 6.30pm at Bourne End Community Centre.