Antony Stuart-Hicks stars in Mercury Theatre’s pantomime this Christmas, Beauty and the Beast, written by Andrew Pollard and directed by Olivier Award-winning Donnacadh O’Briain.
Joining pantomime royalty Antony Stuart-Hicks (Betty Bon Bon) and Dale Superville (Almondé), are Alexandra Barredo (Belle), Daniel Jagusz-Holley (Prince Friedrich/ Beast), Sasha Latoya (L’Amour/Cupid), Jaimie Pruden (Spite), Shelby Speed (Hemlock) and Nick Brittain (Toadstool).
Beauty and the Beast opens at Mercury Theatre Colchester on Saturday 3 December at the Mercury Theatre, with previews from Saturday 26 November 2022, and runs until Sunday 15 January 2023.
You’re returning to Mercury Theatre for this year’s Panto, Beauty and the Beast, what can you tell us about the show?
It’s my 7th season… the time has gone so quickly! But it does when you’re having fun.
This is the first time I’ve performed in Beauty & the Beast, as it’s been a title I’ve always shied away from as Dame. However, the Mercury has waved its magic once again, and I think it is a stunning, side-splitting, musical panto, and I truly believe that our incredible audiences will love it.
What is it about Andrew Pollard’s Panto scripts that make them so successful?
Andrew is willing to collaborate with re-writes and ideas from the cast and creatives – so it makes the production a very personal creative process – which I think ultimately enhances the script, the audience enjoyment, and the impact of the production.
You’re no stranger to Panto at the Mercury, what keeps bringing you back?
It is very much a #TeamMercury experience. From the Customer Experience staff through to the actors and musicians on the show, the army of wardrobe, stage management and technical crew – who are all working, tirelessly on providing a top-quality, yet value for money theatre experience – we are very much a family.
Dale Superville is a huge factor for me returning every year – we have an absolutely scream working together. Plus, I get to work on a brand-new set, with brand new costumes and wigs every year – so I’m spoilt. The biggest factor is the audiences… I just love them!
This year you’re playing Betty Bon Bon, tell us a little more about the character and what you love about it?
Betty is a single mother, a successful sweet-shop owner who falls upon hard-times and the added trauma of her daughter Belle going to stay with the Beast. Almonde, Betty’s son is a crazy sweet inventor and a constant source of silliness in the shop. As with all my Dames, Betty is an outrageous flirt, a working-class matriarch who will do anything for her children and to get a date!
And what’s the biggest challenge of staging the annual Panto?
Practically, any pantomime: it’s a huge production. We have a generous three-week rehearsal period (I was used to 7-10 days before I came to Mercury) but we have to put everything together in technical rehearsals, on stage over 4 days with tech, lights, costume and set, the live band and all of the special effects and that is an enormous challenge.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to see Beauty and the Beast?