The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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MADC’s Beauty-ful comeback to Teatru Manoel

Sunday, 7 January 2024, 08:30 Last update: about 4 months ago

Written by Janette Cassar

This year saw the return of MADC to the Teatru Manoel with their traditional Christmas pantomime, the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast, and what a brilliant comeback it was. Written and directed by Chiara Hyzler, the show follows Belle, together with her siblings Val and Raf and nanny Betty, on her journey to find her father. While the story is true to the well-loved original fairytale, Hyzler fills it with lots of twists and the usual political jibes we have come to expect during a pantomime. 


Hyzler has landed the perfect tone for this year's pantomime; her clever wit and poignant writing allowed for a family-friendly, laugh-filled show. Although Hyzler is a familiar face in the pantomime scene, this was her first year writing and directing, and she certainly rose to the occasion making it one of the best pantomimes to grace the Teatru Manoel stage. 

Veteran Alan Montanaro has once again exceeded all expectations, this time as Belle's nanny Betty. The moment Montanaro steps on stage he has the audience engaged and captivated, waiting eagerly to see what he comes up with next. His quick sense of humour can best be seen during his audience interaction, especially with the children. 

The story was brought to life by an array of show-stopping talented actors. Hannah Spiteri gives the lead role of Belle a refreshing take on the traditional fairytale princess. Spiteri did this through her flawless performance, alongside her exceptional vocal abilities. Belle's siblings Val (Jasmine Farrugia) and Raf (Neil Cutajar) were hilariously funny as they played social media influencers. Francesco Nicodeme's portrayal of the evil Hector Pector, the villain in this year's pantomime, got many customary boos and just as many cheers for his devilish rendition of Bon Jovi's It's My Life. Nicodeme was accompanied by his comical assistants Uiva (Maria Buckle) and Mhux Xorta (Rambert Attard) who were this year's lovable sidekicks.

Gianluca Mifsud plays the titular character of The Beast, together with his delightful posse of animate furniture and objects. The story unfolded with the help of the playful and charming Bozza Mixghula (Jake Curti), Gradenza Sultana (Lisa Baldacchino), Kikkra Tereza (Nicole Cassar) and Tick Tock (Maximillian Dingli). 

Credit must also be given to the triple treat chorus in this production. Their wonderful dance moves and impeccable singing is certainly something that should be commented on, as they transformed themselves from villagers, to trolls, to various pieces of cutlery. 

Musical direction was in the capable hands of Kris Spiteri who gave a seamless musical accompaniment to the entire show. The song choices featured an array of various genres from different eras, making it enjoyable for audiences of all ages. These were complemented by Nicodeme's impressive choreography which matched the unique style of each song. A particular highlight of this show was the rendition of the show-stopping number Be Our Guest at the end of Act One.

The set and costume design for this year's pantomime has clearly set a new standard for the Maltese islands. Each new scene came with a new set of backdrops, set pieces and intricate costumes. The breathtaking set design by Matthew Cassar was the perfect backdrop for the story with touches of magic, tied together with Denise Mulholland's stunning costume designs. Cassar and Mulholland have seamlessly blended their designs together to create the perfect visuals for this pantomime. Cassar created a magical set which kept changing scene after scene, leaving the audience in awe every time a new scene appeared. Mulholland's stunning creations were an undeniable highlight throughout the show, from the opening number right up to the finale. 

This show brought together a talented group of individuals, who worked together as a team, giving the Maltese audience a pantomime that will be long remembered for its beauty and its humour. MADC's production of this year's pantomime managed to leave its mark on the Teatru Manoel stage, making this the perfect Christmas treat for all those who had the privilege of attending. 


Photo Credits: Justin Mamo 

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