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Chloe Gentles - Beauty and the Beast Newbury Interview

With the festive period just around the corner the Corn Exchange in Newbury is preparing for this years pantomime of Beauty and the Beast. Magic, mayhem and mystery lie ahead in a production full of roaringly funny jokes, beastly amounts of magic and a hit list of songs for all ages. It’s sure to be a production not to be missed.  

The cast for the production includes Adam Craig, Abby Fell, Chloe Gentles, Lois Elizabeth Glenister, Jade Johnson, Graham Mackay-Bruce, Jenny Perry, Robbie Noonan, Nathan Shaw and Harry Warburton. 

The production marks the return of Corn Exchange’s Pay It Forward panto appeal. Last year the appeal raised over £8700 giving opportunities for people to come experience the delight of panto who may have not been able to otherwise.

The production runs from Friday 24th November until Saturday 31st December 2023. Ahead of the run we caught up with Chloe Gentles who will play Belle to discuss the production.

Welcome back to Pantoland! This year you’re playing Belle in Beauty and The Beast. What can you tell me about the production and the character?
Thank you! I am so excited to be returning to Newbury this year to play Belle! So far, what I know about this year's productions is there is a modern take on the classic story. It’s going to revolve around the beast and his mental health. It’s still going to have all the panto classics and be super fun! I know a few of the songs being used this year and they are absolute bangers!

How do think you’ll approach making the character which is naturally so iconic in the Disney movies?
I feel I will definitely give a nod to the classic Disney character but because the writers are so fantastic and make sure every character has depth to them, I will do my best and add my Gentles charm to her as much as I can.

You’re making a welcome return to the Corn Exchange in Newbury, how exciting is it for you to be returning to the venue?
Beyond excited! I love Newbury and the corn exchange. The team and staff are so great and lovely. I’m especially looking forward to the theatre coffee, it tastes great and they got me through last time!

You’ve recently completed a run in the touring product of Winnie The Pooh and have performed in pantomimes before, how rewarding is it playing to a family audience and hearing the younger ones reactions?
Aw, it truly is an amazing feeling. Knowing that the show I am in could be many young people's first show, means so much to me. My goddaughter watched me in Cinderella last time I was here; it was her first ever show, and she was 2! It meant so much to her and me.

What memories of pantomimes do you have from your life?
If I'm being honest, growing up, I hated pantomimes purely because I hated pyrotechnics. I still hate them but can deal with them a lot better now! however, the pantos that I did watch, I loved! They are so much fun and bring so much joy to all ages and it is a time for family and friends to get together and experience something they will all remember and create magical memories.

What keeps you inspired as an artist?
Watching other shows. I just love watching talent and people expressing themselves through their talent and craft.

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing Beauty and the Beast?
I hope they take away joy. fantastic memories with the people they love and the festive spirit.

Beauty and the Beast runs at Corn Exchange Newbury from Thursday 24th November until Sunday 31st December 2023. Tickets are available

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