Tuesday, July 5

Beauty and the Beast – Edinburgh Playhouse

“Be our guest” and so you should, this toe tapping bonanza of a musical is a treat for the eyes. Mixing pre-recorded projections, detailed set pieces of course some magic, this production is one for the whole family.

The story follows a Selfish young Prince turned beast and a bookworm beauty who doesn’t quite fit in and find herself pursued by a man who just can’t take no for an answer. When her father is held prisoner by the beast, belle volunteers to take his place, thus beginning our love story. Of course, one cannot forget the merry band of living furniture who guide us along the way.

Expect classics from Howard Ashman and Tim Rice such as: Beauty and the Beast, Be Our Guest, Human Again and Gaston.

Casting for this production does not disappoint for the most part, with the roles of Gaston (Tom Senior), Lumiere (Gavin Lee) and Mrs Potts (Sam Bailey) encapsulating their roles so well they could have leaped off of the screen of the 1991 movie. Lee has impeccable comedic timing, stealing the show and Senior simply is Gaston to a T.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for leading lady Courtney Stapleton, who whilst looking the part and have some incredible vocals, missed the mark on the acting front. She resembled that of a Disney Park princess lacking any sincerity or believability, this made connecting to the character emotionally very difficult.

Unfortunately for our leading man Alyn Hawke, his performance was let down by his costuming and makeup. The beast did not look intimidating or scary in any way, resembling a hairy man with a little stuffing in his trousers and horns. This meant when Hawke roared (as he did regularly), he resembled young Simba from the lion King more than a big scary beast. This is of course at no fault to the actor and unfortunately a bad style choice.

Whilst it was a miss for the beast’s attire, the mark was definitely hit for the rest of the cast’s costumes. The furniture character designs where perfect, clearly demonstrating what each character was whilst leaving a human quality to them. Fun little features were added such as actual fire from Lumiere’s candle sticks and steam from Mrs Potts spout. Belle’s famous yellow ball gown is a sparkly joy, gaining various ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the audience, although I’ll admit it’s pleats are reminiscent of ravioli pasta.

One stand out costume piece however is the use of reading glasses for Belle, no other Disney princess wears glasses so this is just such a wonderful touch for those little girls and boys out there looking for a character like themselves.

Overall, the musical really is a dinner party for the senses, with mesmerising scenery, a spectacular ensemble of performers and a hint of Disney’s adult humour. It’s certainly not perfect so 5 stars cannot be awarded but it is definitely a lot of fun. Take your family, take your friends and have a ball with this magical treat.

Beauty and the Beast continues at Edinburgh Playhouse until 27th November 2021 with tickets available from https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/disneys-beauty-and-the-beast/edinburgh-playhouse/

Reviewer: Beth Eltringham

Reviewed: 26th October 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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