Panto stars bring theatre magic to bed-bound children

The cast of Beauty and the Beast visit Sam Merrick, aged 9, from Denmead at Queen Alexandra Hospital 

Picture by:  Malcolm Wells
The cast of Beauty and the Beast visit Sam Merrick, aged 9, from Denmead at Queen Alexandra Hospital Picture by: Malcolm Wells
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CHILDREN who have found themselves stuck in hospital ahead of Christmas have had their spirits lifted in dramatic fashion.

Actors and actresses from New Theatre Royal’s production of Beauty and the Beast visited the children’s ward in Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, to put a smile on their faces and wish them a merry Christmas.

The cast of Beauty and the Beast visit Jude Allen, aged 7, from Cowplain 

Picture by:  Malcolm Wells

The cast of Beauty and the Beast visit Jude Allen, aged 7, from Cowplain Picture by: Malcolm Wells

The theatre’s production puts a unique spin on the story, from the streets of Portsmouth to the forests of Hampshire.

One of the children visited was Jude Allen, age seven from Cowplain.

Jude said: ‘Musicals are my favourite thing, and I got to talk about it with them a lot.

‘My favourite musical is Matilda and my big brother was in Into The Woods and Cinderella.

‘It was fun to have them all in the hospital – I really enjoyed it.’

Sam Merrick, age nine from Denmead, has had a number of serious health problems since birth.

He was recently re-admitted to QA Hospital, but says he was glad to meet the stars of Beauty and the Beast.

He said: ‘It was really good to see them all.

‘They came in and had a look at my colouring – I have been doing lots of that since I came in.

‘I really like going to the theatre and have seen a lot of different shows – I don’t think I could even pick a favourite.’

Scott Ramsay, writer and director of Beauty and the Beast, said: ‘Today has been absolutely wonderful.

‘We talked about doing this a while ago and it is great to bring the cast along to see the children.

‘Sadly, there are some children here who will be staying in the hospital over Christmas and it is truly satisfying to put a smile on their faces.

‘Being in hospital 24/7 can be really mundane for these children – so doing something like this really helps to break the day up for them.

‘Those who are healthy enough to be leaving the hospital soon will be given tickets to come and see the show – it is the least we can do for children who are so incredibly brave.

‘The staff and children seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves today and we will certainly be doing this every year going forwards.’

Performances of Beauty and the Beast will be continuing at New Theatre Royal until Sunday, December 31.

For more information go to newtheatreroyal.com/performances/beauty-and-the-beast.