Extravagant. Exuberant. Exhilarating. I could expound so many other ‘E’s you’d feel as if you were on a hallucinogenic drug-induced trip. Which is exactly what it feels like watching the stupendously spectacular revival of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast.’
The story needs no introduction, but if you’ve been hidden away for longer than the Covid pandemic, let me remind you: a handsome prince is rude to an old woman who turns him into a beast and the only way of escaping the spell is to find true love. In a nutshell, it’s a classic love story of finding beauty within.
Fortunately for the audience, this production has beauty everywhere and I mean everywhere. It is stunning in its scenery (Stanley A. Meyer) and costumes (Ann Hould-Ward) and dripping with the sort of outrageously expensive stuff and clever wizardry we’re just not used to seeing. No budget appears to have been applied to this production which absolutely screams quality and talent from every button, eyelash and scrape of paint. It is beyond breath-taking how visually stunning a show could be. I was anywhere but sat in a theatre – I was there in the forest, in the castle, in the village – and I never wanted to come out. Such was the power of this show to transport you.
The casting of Belle (Courtney Stapleton) and the Beast (Shaq Taylor) is a magical pairing and their chemistry fizzes down the aisles encircling everybody in their tumultuous relationship. And of course, we have the expected bumps in the road – we long for them. True love is never easy, we all know that. We want our heroes to be challenged, we want to be hurtled through hard times to cherish the good times. And my, when we get there won’t we celebrate!
Of course, we all need a helping hand to get where we’re trying to go, which is why you have a candlestick and a clock to help you on your way. The candlestick is French, no less, Lumiere, and Gavin Lee owns the character like Liberace on heat with his flamboyance and flair. Couple that with the uptight rigour, yet sensitive caring of a clock aka Cogsworth (Nigel Richards) and you have a show-stealing duo who deserve their own spin-off.
In a show that’s such a visual feast I hate to pinpoint one moment in time when there were so many magical moments, but ‘Be Our Guest’ is the most sensational extravaganza of an ensemble I have ever seen. My eyes popped and bounced from the sheer thrill of the performance which had you wondering if there was any colour on the spectrum the producers hadn’t thought to use. The singing, the dancing – the everything – was hectic and frenetic and so cleverly done it was the most fantastical performance on the planet.
If there’s any downside to this show, it is only that no other show will ever likely compare. I have been spoilt for life watching ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and I am ecstatic!
‘Beauty and the Beast’ continues at the London Palladium until Saturday 17th September 2022 with tickets available from https://lwtheatres.co.uk/theatres/the-london-palladium/
Reviewer: Samantha Collett
Reviewed: 30th June 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★
Photos: Johan Persson ©Disney