Beauty and the Beast: A Northcott Review

Razz writer, Laura Rollo, give her thoughts on the recent showing of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the Northcott…

During the busy October half term week, a packed Northcott Theatre was treated to local drama school ‘Stage by Stages’ production of Walt Disneys’ classic and much loved ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Stage by Stage has been running for over 10 years and many of its pupils have gone on to star in hit West End shows including ‘Mama Mia’ and ‘Mary Poppins’. The young cast, some of whom were as young as 6 or 7, appeared a little shaky to begin with but soon got in to the swing of things.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ was a personal childhood favourite so I was very excited for the performance. As the lights dimmed, there was the inevitable buzz of excitement from the audience as the music started and the narrator introduced to us the tale of how the beast came to be the way he was. The acoustics to begin with could have been better, as at times it was hard to hear, however, this did resolve itself as the play progressed. The first half included all the classic songs, plus a few additions that were not included in the film. Belle and Mrs Potts were noticeable stand outs for their singing, with some fantastic performances. Gaston also gave a very strong performance, albeit slightly comical with drawn on chest hair and fake muscles to correlate with Gaston’s bulky image, but was definitely the central comedic figure.

The staging for the castle was also particularly good, catching the eerie and haunting atmosphere with great effect. ‘Be Our Guest’ and ’Like Gaston’, in my opinion, were the best numbers of the night, with the costumes and the singing capturing the magical mood perfectly.

I did find that the second half was not as strong as the first and that it did not quite capture the darker mood seen in the film. This continued really throughout. There did not seem to be much differentiation between the comical and the more serious scenes, except perhaps when we are led to have believed the beast has died before his transformation back into the prince. The budding romance between Belle and the Beast was, however, caught very well without being too sappy, and their ultimate happy ending was everything it was supposed to be.

The performance on the whole, was perfect for the young audience, full of colour and enthusiasm from its cast. I did feel that the performance in parts came across as slightly amateur but on the whole, it was a polished and endearing display.

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