Beauty and the Beast

The Fremont Players present the classic tale of “Beauty and the Beast” in the style of a traditional British winter pantomime.

A traditional “panto” contains many consistent elements, such as audience participation in the form of cheers for the hero and hisses for the villain; stock characters like a dame played by a man in drag, and a boy hero played by a woman; contemporary references for a little chairos appeal. With raucous singing choruses, slapstick comedy, and a smattering of thinly veiled adult humor for parents, this kind of show is intended to be enjoyed by people of all ages–provided certain demographics have access to a little beer (which is great for the Fremont Players, whose venue is directly behind a brewery).

This production adheres well to the English-flavored commedia dell’arte stylings of the tradition, and if you have kids, or feel like tossing back a few and spending an hour and a half loudly engaging with a very silly story told in a very silly way, then this production is absolutely for you. The Fremont Players are a profoundly fun-loving group of people who present a spirited and high-energy performance with great humor and a sweet spirit that at no point fails to charm. The costumes and the set, which generally seem to be not so much designed as found in the basement at home hearken to a time in all of our lives when a simple cardboard box could be anything from a rocket ship to an undersea cave.

As I say, this is a show that kids will enjoy. It would be made more accessible to all theater goers if it had a cast with skill to match their sense of whimsy. Even a genre based around casual–and lets be frank about the Brits for a moment: a bit drunken–community connection can be approached with time-honed skill and grace. And while bawdy good-spirited fun always has its place in my heart, these are neither actors nor singers nor dancers.

Still! The music is immensely fun, though the singers are shrill, and, with a beer in hand and a babe on knee, a good time is guaranteed for all.

The Fremont Players’ “Beauty and the Beast,” directed by Mathew Stull, will play from December 13 to January 11 at Hale’s Palladium (4301 Leary Way NW, Seattle). For tickets, please visit BrownPaperTickets.com

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