Customs House Pantomime: Beauty and the Beast is spellbindingly splendid

Sparkling sequins, show-stopping songs and a smattering of smut - it had it all.
Cutlet, Dame Bella Ballcock  and Arbuthnot in action.Cutlet, Dame Bella Ballcock  and Arbuthnot in action.
Cutlet, Dame Bella Ballcock and Arbuthnot in action.

It might be The Little Panto with the Big Heart - but there’s no small portions in this year’s festive offering of Beauty And The Beast at the Customs House.

Cooksonville was once again brought to life in a dazzling array of sets and colourful characters which audience regulars have come to expect and adore.

The Beast, played by Steven Lee Hamilton.The Beast, played by Steven Lee Hamilton.
The Beast, played by Steven Lee Hamilton.
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Based on the classic fairytale, the panto follows the plight of the Beast (Steven Lee Hamilton) who hopes to regain his human Prince-like form with the help of Beauty (Annie Guy) and the gang, before the magic rose’s last petal falls.

Of course nothing is simple where the hilarious Dame Bella Ballcock (Ray Spencer) and Arbuthnot (David John Hopper) are involved.

Their double entendres turned the air blue. The adults were howling, while the children remained oblivious - but still chuckling - at the pair’s antics.

Putting the superb slapstick routines aside, the lead characters brought back a touch of class with their amazing, and powerful, singing voices.

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Particularly impressive was Beauty’s duet of ' A Million Dreams' with The Enchantress (Eleanor Chaganis) - which also had an actual touch of magic involved.

While The Beast’s rendition of 'Never Enough' left the theatre in silence - before a rapturous applause broke out.

One of the most heartwarming characters was Cutlet (Charlie Raine), the talented sheep friend of Arbuthnot.

Not only did the lovable ewe have a brilliant stage presence - she also used British Sign Language throughout her performance.

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While the theatre does host special shows for those with hearing impairments - it was refreshing to see an actress incorporate signing as part of her regular routine.

It must be quite hard to perfect on panto perfection - but once again writers Ray Spencer and Graeme Thompson have created yet another rib-tickling show which anyone would be mad to miss.

Beauty And The Beast is on until Saturday, January 5.

Tickets cost from £9.99. To book, call the Box Office on 0191 454 1234,