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Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Nic Greenshields (Beast), Katie Rowley-Jones (Belle), Michael Quinn (Gaston), Adam Stafford (Cogsworth), Mark Inscoe (Lumiere), Tania Newton (Mrs Potts) and introducing Sam Berkson & Sean Flannigan
as 'Chip'
Producers: Martin Dodds & Peter Frosdick
Liverpool Empire Theatre
Thursday 1st September 2005

Disney's Beauty and the Beast  promotional image


Theatre is designed for the onslaught of magic and with this adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, the classic French fairytale, all of those involved have hit the nail very squarely on the head. Wrongs are righted, villains thwarted and the boy very definitely gets the girl - just as it should be - but in such a spectacular manner, that the audience comes away feeling nothing other than entranced.

For those of you who don't know, an arrogant young prince turns away an old woman seeking shelter in his castle. When the woman turns into a beautiful enchantress, she casts a spell on the prince turning him into an ugly beast until such time as he demonstrates true love. In this case though, it's not only the prince who is changed, so are all of his servants. Belle (Rowley-Jones) is a village girl who loves to read and hates the advances of the vain and nasty Gaston (Quinn), and takes delight in turning down his marriage proposal. When the Beast takes prisoner her father, Belle exchanges her freedom for his and, when Gaston finds out about the Beast in the woods, fireworks fly and a battle to the death ensues.

When the 1991 Disney movie was adapted the for the stage, the show overflowed with critical acclaim and ran for years on Broadway and in the West End. Now on tour, theatres across the land are packed and audiences are roaring its approval still.
The costumes are a delight, the performances skilled, highly energetic and faultless, whilst the effects are simply dazzling. Katie Rowley-Jones has the enigmatic appeal of all good fairytale princesses matched only by a singing voice that is truly angelic. Nic Greenshields, standing at six feet six, cuts an imposing figure as Beast, yet is as pliable as a rubber band, a fact highlighted by his transformation. Tania Newton playing Mrs Potts - a cook slowly turning into a teapot - sings the title song with a clarity and grace that warms the heart, aided by her sweetly charming son, Chip, teacup pushed around on a trolley.

Yet it is the songs by the ensemble that leave the lasting impressions here; Be Our Guest is performed by the cast dressed as a variety of household implements - cheese graters, cutlery, egg-timers, condiment pots, toast-racks and hearth rugs to name but a few - and a tavern scene introducing Gaston has to be seen to be believed. The choreographers for this show, headed by Alison Pollard who also Directs, should all be roundly applauded for their efforts.

All in all, this is a production that guarantees a fantastic and memorable evening, which reminds us that true beauty always lies beneath much of the beastliness, without.



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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