Review: Disney’s ‘ Beauty and the Beast’ perfect holiday entertainment

theatre Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”. Directed by Jordan Best. Musical Direction by Susan Davenport. Choreography by Jodi Hammond, for Ickle Pickle Productions, at Belconnen Theatre until January 23. Reviewed by Bill Stephens

PRETTY costumes, an opulent fairy-tale setting, imaginative staging, and some excellent singing and acting from the large, predominately young, cast, are the ingredients which ensure that Ickle Pickle’s latest offering is a delight from start to finish.

Pip Carrol as Lumiere. Photo by Bec Doyle Photography

Pip Carrol as Lumiere. Photo by Bec Doyle Photography

Kaitlin Nihill as Belle Photo by Bec Doyle Photography

Kaitlin Nihill as Belle Photo by Bec Doyle Photography

Guided by Jordan Best’s experienced directorial hand, this charming interpretation of a ‘love will conquer all’ story about a feisty young woman, Belle (Kaitlin Nihill), who disdains the overtures of the village hoon, Gaston (Liam Jones), to rescue her aged father, Maurice (Michael Jordan), and in the process, melt the heart of the despised town outcast, the Beast (Adam Salter), who turns out to be the enchanted Prince Adam (Nicholas Beecher), moves along swiftly.

Tuneful songs and eye-dazzling dance routines deliciously sugar-coat subversive messages about body-image, integrity and trust hidden among the witty dialogue.

Ebullient performances from Pip Carroll, (Lumiere), Bojana Kos (Babette), Amy Jenkins (Mrs Potts) Rebecca Franks (Madame de la Grand Bouche), Zara McCann (Chip), Patrick Galen-Mules (Cogsworth) and Lachlan Burke (Lefou), as inhabitants of the enchanted castle, ensure there is plenty of fun along the way.

Jodi Hammond’s high-spirited dance routines add spectacle, as well as cleverly displaying the dance and acrobatic skills of her talented dancers. Miram Miley-Read’s costumes are also clever and appropriately colourful, excepting for the “Be My Guest” sequence in which most of the ensemble is surprisingly costumed in drab grey, rather than providing a riot of colour.

Zara McAnn as chip, Amy Jenkins as Mrs Potts. Photo by Bec Doyle Photography

Zara McAnn as chip, Amy Jenkins as Mrs Potts. Photo by Bec Doyle Photography

Steve Galinic and Anita Davenport’s impressively opulent setting provided some surprises, although Caitlin Jones’ rather dull lighting design adds little enhancement. Some adjustment to the sound levels of the under-play sections of Susan Davenport’s digital soundtrack, which provides the charming calliope-like musical accompaniment for the show, would also allow more of the unamplified spoken dialogue to be heard.

However, this delightful production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” is a triumph for all concerned and the perfect escapist holiday entertainment for young and old alike.

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