Review: Beauty and the Beast at Falkirk Town Hall is a roaring success

It’s been two years since pantomime was performed on the Falkirk Town Hall stage, and audiences have waited a year to see this one – but I can assure you, Beauty and the Beast is worth the wait.

By Fiona Dobie
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 4:30 pm
Falkirk's own Barbara Bryceland with her powerful vocals takes on the role of Fairy Fiona.  (pic: Michael Gillen)
Falkirk's own Barbara Bryceland with her powerful vocals takes on the role of Fairy Fiona. (pic: Michael Gillen)

In a time when we’re still uncertain of what restrictions may be imposed next, this pantomime is the perfect escape for a few hours of laughter and joy.

Of course, current events cannot be forgotten completely as masks are required to be worn throughout the performance, except when eating or drinking, but it's fantastic to see an audience back in the theatre soaking up the traditions we’ve all come to know and love.

All the ingredients for perfect panto fun are included: humour, song, dance, colourful costumes and a good helping of audience participation – oh yes there is! And all the characters required are there too – the extravagant dame, the comedy sidekick, the evil villain to boo, a pretty heroine and a charming prince (who is also a beast on this occasion).

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Fairy Fiona (Barbara Bryceland) places a curse on Prince Angus (Sam Willison) transforming him into a Beast. (pic: Michael Gillen)

From the moment the curtain goes up, this show captures the audience and has them entertained until the very end. Everyone watching was loving the production from Imagine Theatre.

The whole cast were excellent and made sure the audience were having fun.

Having been away from the stage for so long due to the pandemic, they seemed to be enjoying every minute and their high energy and spirit levels rubbed off on those watching.

Falkirk’s own Barbara Bryceland is Fairy Fiona, using her magic to turn arrogant Prince Angus into a Beast to teach him a lesson. He must find true love’s kiss before the final petal of the magic rose falls or he will live as the creature forever. This is Barbara’s third panto and it’s clear she’s delighted to be back.

Dame Moira McClunkey (Alex Robertson) with the Beast (Sam Willison) in the castle kitchen. (pic: Michael Gillen)

The beautiful Belle is played brilliantly by Kim Shepherd, who is as sweet as you would expect for this role, while Sam Willison does a grand job in his split personality as Prince Angus and the Beast.

Once again Derek McGhie laps up the boos from the crowd as the villain – this year strutting around as the fantastically egotistical Callum Kelpie, vying for Belle’s affections.

However, it’s Wee Frankie McClunkey, played splendidly by Scott Watson, and his mammy Dame Moira McClunkey, the wonderfully over the top Alex Robertson, who steal the show.

This comedy pairing is terrific and will have you in stitches.

Villain Callum Kelpie (Derek McGhie) was determined he would marry Belle, kill the Beast and live in the castle. (pic: Michael Gillen)

Wee Frankie had a fantastic rapport with the audience who loved his silly and humourous nature and the banter between him and Dame Moira brought smiles to everyone’s faces behind their masks.

One of the highlights has to be the scene with them both in the castle kitchen, but we won’t give any more away.

Beauty and the Beast was a brilliant night out – so if you’re looking for some light-hearted fun then check it out. It runs until December 29.

Cast: Fairy Fiona – Barbara Bryceland; Wee Frankie McClunkey – Scott Watson; Callum Kelpie – Derek McGhie; Dame Moira McClunkey – Alex Robertson; Belle – Kim Shepherd; Beast/Prince Angus – Sam Willison; Professor Porridge – Colin Little; Ensemble – Stefanie Eadie, Peter Vint; Young people – Megan Richards, April Beattie, Kara Russell and Abbey Gordon.

Scott Watson steals the show as the silly and funny Wee Frankie McClunkey. (pic: Michael Gillen)
From left, Dame Moira McClunkey (Alex Robertson), Wee Frankie McClunkey (Scott Watson), Belle (Kim Shepherd) and Professor Porridge (Colin Little). Picture: Michael Gillen.
Callum Kelpie (Derek McGhie) and Belle (Kim Shepherd)