School's winner of Harrogate Theatre review contest

The current crop of students in Harrogate Theatre's Young Reviewers scheme with the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers, left.
The current crop of students in Harrogate Theatre's Young Reviewers scheme with the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers, left.

Harrogate Theatre's Young Reviewers Scheme in conjunction with the Harrogate Advertiser has begun again for 2018.

Each year the theatre invites all the Harrogate area's local secondary schools to nominate a student for participation in this scheme.

Each student chosen is invited to attend and review a selected range of shows at Harrogate Theatre across the season.

They are closely guided by Hannah Draper, Head of Education; Graham Chalmers, from the Harrogate Advertiser; and myself, with tips and feedback provided throughout the scheme.

The aim of the scheme is to develop writing skills and nurture arts engagement.

For each production attended one ‘star review’ is chosen.

The first show our Young Reviewers attended was, of course, pantomime.

Well done to Lauren McGaun from The Grammar School at Leeds for being the chosen ‘star reviewer’ of Beauty and the Beast.

Here’s what she wrote:

A Beast of a show at Harrogate Theatre

Review by Lauren McGaun, student, The Grammar School at Leeds

The classic tale of girl meets beast with a modern French and Yorkshire twist, makes for one of the most hilarious and accessible performances in pantomime history.

The star of the panto has to be “enchante” Muddles (Tim Stedman) who sometimes gets muggled; sorry, I mean muddled.

The excellent trio of his comical ‘bonjour’, a juggling masterclass and a split-tastic pun over confusion with a banana and bandana has the children rolling in laughter instantly.

Other notable characters include Belle (Maisey Bawden) who pours her heart out in a phenomenal melody of Jennifer Hudson’s ‘I’m Telling You’ touching the hearts of the whole audience, as well as the Beast (Tom Bainbridge), a “beast by name, beast by nature”, who skilfully portrays the difficulties of someone who doesn’t fit in or conform.

Of course, all good pantos must include a villain and Harrogate Theatre doesn’t disappoint. Mona Lisa (Katy Dean) brings sass in the form of the well-known Essex accent, appealing to teenagers with “well jell” and “shut up” ensuring there is plenty of “oh yes I did[s]” and “oh no you didn’t[s]”.

What makes the performance so special has to be the script (written by Phil Lowe and David Bown). From the unfortunate turn of phrase ‘smashing’, to the jumbled discourse of ‘peasy easy squeezy lemon’ – the script is scattered with jokes without over doing it.

My personal highlight is the grand finale musical featuring chart toppers ‘Sorry’ and ‘Despacito’ alongside disco favourite ‘Boogie Wonderland’, produced by the sensational Musical Director Nick Lacey.

This incredible musical performance appears under the backdrop of a vibrant blue and red neon lit set (Alexandra Stafford).

These floor fillers allow the whole audience to sing along with appeal to both young and old.

Beauty and the Beast runs at Harrogate Theatre until Sunday 21st January.

Box Office: 01423 502116