PLAYING it for laughs is the name of the game for renowned panto-teers Burneside Amateur Theatrical Society.

Fabulously funny and zany, the BATS crew are up there with the best belting out sharp one-liners and laugh out loud moments galore.

From Friday until Sunday, January 5-7, and Wednesday to Saturday, January 10-13, BATS palatial portion of panto staged at The Bryce, will be Ben Crocker's Beauty and the Beast promising once again all the ingredients of a slap-up, laughter-laden feast.

The cast includes Simon Yaxley, who narrates in the guise of Felix, the giant, fluffy and very French canine; Vicky Edge is Jacques, Beauty's brother; Jen Armitstead plays Capucine (I'm told she's in love with Jacques); BATS' baddie is Malabelle played by Helen Townson; Wayne Bartholomew is Ma the dame; Rose is played by Elisha Selby; Ron Milnes takes the part of the Talking Clock and in the roles of the Prince and the Beast are Tracey Howson and Thomas Miles.

Beauty promises to be a bobby-dazzling beast of a panto and provides Louise Bell with her directorial debut.

Louise, who first performed with BATS in 2015, said that someone once told her that every actor should be involved backstage at least once, so this time around she decided to volunteer to direct: "The script had already been chosen by the time I was involved but as Beauty and the Beast is so popular this year I thought it would be great opportunity to take such a well known story and retell it with a pantomime twist. And although the pantomime is not Disney’s Beauty and the Beast it was still a good excuse to involve some of the catchy songs from the film."

Born in Lancaster and brought up in Kendal, Louise said that throughout her school years she was always involved in musicals and plays.

"I did my GCSEs at Queen Katherine School and A levels at Kirkbie Kendal School and planned to go on and study drama at university but during my gap year I started working within HR. I decided to pursue that opportunity instead and carry drama on as a hobby."

Seven years with Kendal's award-winning Amabile Girls Choir also stood her in good stead; she has never lost her great love of singing.

By day, Louise works in HR at Westmorland Family (Tebay Services), by night she occupies BATS director's chair, orchestrating panto proceedings and putting the BATS performers through their paces with plenty of singalong songs and gags flying fast and furious.

"Rehearsals are going well and this year is a relatively small cast which has made it a little difficult sometimes trying to work around everyone’s commitments and jobs. However, as always the cast and crew will pull together to produce a fun filled show for all the family to enjoy."

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