Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Tue 16 to Sat 20 November 2010
Palace Theatre, Redditch
Director and Choreographer – Andrew Wilson-Jenner
Musical Director – Norma Kift
Society Accompanist – Pauline Sherlock
|Madame de la Grande Bouche
|Alex Cottom and Hannah Finch
|Silly Girl 1
|Silly Girl 2
|Silly Girl 3
|Silly Girl 4
Favourite brought to life by a fine cast
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a man dressed as a cheese grater being thrown into the air by a woman wearing a multi-coloured ’80s wig. No, I wasn’t dreaming – this was Redditch Operatic Society’s energetic and imaginative interpretation of Be Our Guest, one of Beauty and the Beast’s most famous tunes.
In fact, high-energy was the word to describe the whole performance of Disney’s loved tale, brought to life by a stellar cast of all-singing, passionate actors.
The performance was filled with comedy, much more so than I remember the film being, with Michael Clarke as Lefou raising laughs with young and old alike. The trio of Jonathan Southall (Cogsworth), Ryan Allen (Lumiere) and Liz Bird (Madame de la Grande Bouche) interacted fabulously in their scenes, providing much of the comedy for the audience.
The occasional first-night technical mishaps were barely noticed amid an air of comedy, great acting from most of the cast and brilliant singing. Tracy Wright as Mrs Potts was particularly spine-tingling during her harmonies and Kate Squires-Thornton was definitely the singing star of the show as lead Belle. Her acting outstripped others in the cast and her accent remained constant throughout, something which some of the others struggled with.
Overall, this was a show that had everything – plenty of singing, the cuteness factor provided by Hannah Finch as Chip and a chance for audiences to see this most-loved tale brought to life by a passionate and comedic cast.
Redditch Standard, Friday 26 November 2010
A Sparkling Production
A sparkling production of this difficult to stage and large cast show. ‘Belle’, Kate Squires-Thornton, has a lovely voice and stage presence and her performance was outstanding. Her scenes with ‘Beast/Prince’, Dan Wainman, gave both the opportunity to display their initial fear of each other and ultimately their tenderness and love together.
The whole cast was admirable and the ensemble singing and movement was excellent. Costumes were superb and are so important in this show. The music is not very memorable but I am really beginning to appreciate and enjoy it. Everyone involved should be congratulated and proud of this performance.
Trevor Guest, NODA Representative, West Midlands
We grabbed the chance of bringing a Disney musical to the Palace Theatre stage for the first time, as soon as this fabulous show was released to amateur societies in the UK.
We’re so glad we did, since it turned out to be our biggest show ever, in every regard: our biggest ever audience (a sell-out); the biggest budget by far we’d ever spent on a show; the biggest company (with over 60 performers in the company) and a stage full of some of the biggest, brightest, most intricate costumes we’ve ever seen!
We were delighted that Andrew Wilson-Jenner joined us as director and choreographer for the first time. Andrew’s complete vision of the show, together with his enthusiasm, imagination and drive meant that we were onto a winner from the start. He directed, choreographed, provided the costumes, designed and oversaw the creation of the scenery and the props and brought creative input from outside our usual sphere together to create a stunning production.
The orchestra had their work cut out, with the intricate and rich score. They were excellent, under the direction of Norma Kift as Musical Director once again. The back stage crew really had their work cut out, too, with many scene changes and ‘trucks’ frequently racing in and out, a flying rig (used twice in the show) and pyrotechnics adding ‘sparkle’.
From the very first rehearsal to the last, the excitement in the company was tangible. They all knew that opportunities to be in a show like this don’t come along every day. Word soon spread that this was really going to be something special – as evidenced by our first-ever complete sell-out, and incredible reviews and comments from everyone who saw the show.
Synopsis of the Show
- No Matter What
- Is This Home?
- How Long Must This Go On?
- Be Our Guest
- If I Can’t Love Her
- Something There
- Human Again
- Maison Des Lunes
- Beauty And The Beast
- A Change In Me
- The Mob Song
Beauty and the Beast is an ancient French tale which tells of an enchantress disguised as an old woman who offers a young prince a rose in exchange for shelter. When the prince refuses, the old woman turns into a beautiful vision and places a spell on the young prince turning him into an ugly beast and his staff into household items. She gives him a magic mirror to see what he will now miss in the outside world, and the rose that will bloom for many years. He has to find love before all the petals fall or he and his staff will remain in their present state forever.
In a nearby village we meet the villagers who sing about a strange, but beautiful, girl called Belle. We also meet her father, Maurice the mad inventor, who heads off through the forest to the market with his latest invention, a wood chopping machine. Set on by wolves Maurice takes shelter in the dark castle of the Beast and comes face-to-face with the transformed staff.
Belle is courted by the arrogant Gaston whose side-kick, Lefou, finds Maurice’s half eaten scarf in the woods. He shows Belle, which sends her off in search of her father. She finds the castle and begs the Beast to exchange her imprisoned father for herself.
Back in the village, Gaston is furious that Belle has spurned his charms. Soon Maurice comes running back from the castle, informing the villagers that Belle has been captured by a hideous Beast. Gaston doesn’t believe him, thinking him a crazy old man.
Back at the castle, Belle refuses the Beast’s clumsy attempts at being kind, while the servants watch with hope diminishing as they realise it is unlikely that Belle and the Beast will fall in love and break the spell. The servants, however, are delighted to have a guest to look after and perform an elaborate routine at dinner time.
Later, Belle enters the forbidden West Wing of the castle but the Beast finds her and shouts at her. She runs away, leaving the Beast alone with his remorse.
Belle manages to escape the castle and is set on by the wolves only to be rescued by the Beast, who in turn for Belle’s attention to his wolf-inflicted wounds gives Belle the castle library as a gift, formally locked and sealed as the prince is unable to read.
The servants look on excitedly at the blossoming relationship between Belle and the Beast, and wish for the time when the spell is broken and they become human again.
Back in the village, Gaston and sidekick Lefou arrange a meeting with Monsieur D’Arque, the proprietor of the local lunatic asylum, with the idea of getting Maurice locked up.
By enjoying stories together Belle and the Beast begin to understand each other and Belle, having refused dinner earlier, arranges a grand dinner for them both. Later, the Beast allows her to see the magic mirror, which shows her father lost in the woods alone. The Beast releases Belle, encouraging her to find her father. He admits to his staff that he has indeed found love, only to lose it again, and resigns himself to his fate.
Belle, returning her father safely home, is confronted by Gaston. He declares marriage to her in exchange for protection of Maurice, who otherwise will be sent to the asylum. Belle uses the mirror to show the Beast to Gaston and the villagers, but instead of alleviating their fears Gaston incites the mob to invade the castle and attempt to kill the Beast.
At the castle there is a mighty fight between Gaston and his mob and the Beast and his servants. Will the Beast survive the attack? And if so, will he and Belle be able to live happily ever after…?
Music by Alan Menken.
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.
Book by Linda Woolverton.
Originally directed by Robert Jess Roth.
Originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions.
An amateur production by permission of Josef Weinberger Ltd on behalf of Music Theatre International of New York.