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Beauty And The Beast

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Long ago, there lived a prince who had everything he could want. He was unkind and had no love. One night, an ugly old woman offers him a rose, but he rejects cruelly rejects her. She casts a spell on the castle; he turns into the most horrible beast, while everyone else becomes a household object. He must learn to love, and also be loved, before the rose dies. If not, the spell will never be broken. Meanwhile, Belle lives in a provincial town, with her inventor father and his terrible sense of direction. She is being relentlessly courted by Gaston, the bullying brute; but she has dreams that stretch far beyond him. The two worlds collide and an enchanting fairytale unfolds.

This extravagant show has plenty for all to enjoy. Kids will be delighted by the slapstick fun but, for adults, it is still enchanting. Universally, the characters are strong, with excellent voices. Belle (Ashley Oliver) is appealing as a portrayal of gentle perfection. The voice of Shaun Dalton (the Beast) has beautiful extremes of fear and anger. The large cast is slickly rehearsed, giving seamlessly magical delight.

The performance is ever faithful to the Disney movie, effortlessly overcoming on-stage difficulties, giving an exquisitely polished fairytale show. The production team for this show deserve an entire review to themselves. From one scene to another, the set cleverly moulds, from extravagant castles to spooky woods. The special effects are spectacular, giving a wonderful illusion of magical transformation of characters – for example, Beast to Prince.

The costumes are incredible. Characters, slowly converting into household objects, are lifelike: Lumiere the candlestick has his own flame, while Cogsworth swings in time, and Chip the teacup has the face of a boy. “Be Our Guest” is an extravaganza of inspired costumery, causing the crowd to delightedly coo, as they recognise each utensil! Belle’s finale dress would make any wedding gown seem modest, as the prince is revealed as dashingly handsome.

Superficially, this show is a little twee, but let it enchant you. This tale may be “as old as time”, but it’s certainly not tired.

- Rebecca Hale


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