It’s become a bit of a tradition in our house to go along to the festive production at the Corby Cube.
While others theatres go all-out with the baubles and tinsel with traditional pantos, the Cube offers an alternative family show with a Christmasy-vibe each December.
And this year’s offering, Beauty and the Beast, is every bit as wonderful as last year’s Wind in the Willows and 2016’s A Christmas Carol.
While Walt Disney may have got its hands on the traditional French fairytale, this stage version is definitely more atmospheric Alps than Hollywood Hills.
The tale stays true to the original setting, deep in a forest in France, and has a distinctly darker vibe than the cartoon offering.
The action sees our hero transformed into a Beast and cast out to a castle. Meanwhile, a family from Paris falls on hard times and has to move to a run-down cottage near to the castle, which comes as a deep shock to spoiled twins Anastasia and Latrice. More down-to-earth sister Isabella takes it in her stride. But on his way home from a trip to Paris, their father accidentally offends The Beast after he takes a rose from his garden. The Beast lets him escape with his life if he promises to let his beautiful daughter Isabella live in his castle with him.
From there he begins a series of clumsy attempts to woo her.
A small cast of seven stays on stage for most of the show, directed by Alex Byrne.
These accomplished actors are all talented stage performers, but they’re also gifted musicians, swapping flutes for cellos and accordions for saxophones as they nip between orchestra and spotlight.
There’s a nod to panto in the form of hilarious twins Anastasia and Latrice who steal the show with their haughty attitude towards their downtrodden sister Isabella, played by Sara Lassore.
Martin Bonger uses his physical presence to compelling effect with his powerful version of The Beast. He terrifies, and evokes empathy all at the same time.
The clever show has lots of laughs and, of course, a good dose of love triumphing over evil.
The simple set is perfectly suited to the intimate surroundings of the Core, and is used to wonderful effect. There’s near-constant live musical accompaniment in the form of instrumental tunes and catchy songs which my children have not stopped singing.
And this wouldn’t be a Christmas production if there weren’t some good-old audience participation.
This is a must-see for all the family. It runs until December 30. Get your tickets from the box office here