15th September 2021
Review by Shaun Tossell
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast returns to the stage, in a brand new reimagined production, set to tour the UK & Ireland and the theatre-goers of Bristol are the first lucky bunch of people who get to experience it.
Retelling the classic ‘Tale as old as time’, this sees the original Broadway creative team return and re-imagine Beauty and the Beast for a new generation, taking elements from the original animated classic, the 1994 broadway stage adaptation (which ran for 13 years) and the 2017 live-action film adaptation for its latest incarnation with dazzling results.
The cast of Beauty and the Beast are exceptional, Courtney Stapleton is wonderful, bringing warmth and strength to the classic heroine Belle with Emmanuel Kojo being the perfect sparring partner as the Beast. Kojo really sells the comedy moments, which endears him to the audience. His beautiful deep voice shines in the emotional act one closer “If I Can’t Love Her”.
For those who love a bit of Disney nostalgia, we are treated to a special appearance by Dame Angela Lansbury, who narrates the iconic opening monologue.
This production is also full of wonderful comedic moments with Louis Stockil impressing with his physical comedy prowess as LeFou opposite the hilariously vain Tom Senior as Gaston, Nigel Richards as the cantankerous and blustering Cogsworth, the scene-stealing Samantha Bingley as Madame de la Grande Bouche, Emma Caffrey as the flirtatious Babette and the delightfully charming Sam Bailey as Mrs Potts.
The unquestionable star of the show has to be Tony & Olivier Award-nominated actor Gavin Lee as Lumière. Effortlessly charming, with a twinkle in his eye, he delights the audience anytime he’s on stage.
The ensemble work tirelessly, especially during the big-dance numbers, showcasing the beautiful new choreography from director & choreographer Matt West.
Among the biggest changes for this new production would be the huge LED screen employed as the backdrop, which allows for dynamic scene changes (featuring gorgeous scenic design by Stanley A. Meyer) and effects. It it is cleverly utilised throughout the show, especially when coupled with three moving scrolls throughout the show. The lack of physical set pieces in a couple of scenes, can make the stage feel a little bare at times. Though its use in the show-stopping ‘Be Our Guest’ makes for pure theatrical magic, I couldn’t help but be smiling from ear to ear.
People unfamiliar with the stage adaptation will get to fall in love with the new songs written for the stage show by Alan Menken and Tim Rice, alongside the classic numbers from the film written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. The music sounds as wonderful as ever, with the audience excitedly muttering in anticipation when the familiar haunting overture is played.
This reimagined production adds a refreshed design with the latest technology for a colourful, sparkling concoction of all previous iterations that have come before it. Some hardcore fans may miss the lavish grandeur of the original show but this latest production still conjures the Disney magic we all know and love.
Go see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast for an enchanting time at the theatre! ! !
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is touring the UK & Ireland throughout 2021/22.
Tickets & more info – https://www.beautyandthebeastmusical.co.uk/
Photo credit – Johan Persson