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Beauty and the Beast head for Belco

CANBERRA theatre company Ickle Pickle Productions has carved out a niche for itself in the January theatre scene, and 2016 is no exception, with its musical, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” opening on Friday.

Kaitlin Nihill as Belle
Kaitlin Nihill as Belle

According to the company’s artistic director, Justin Watson, whom we found busily finishing the set, the show is suitable for ages, including ‘nostalgic adults’.  Based on the original adult Broadway production, the full production features a cast of 35 adults and children, along with all of the original songs and characters. Watson said nearly 140 people auditioned for the part, a huge uptake for the company that began with modest hold y pantos shows involving the very young.

In recent years, he explained, Ickle Pickle has widened its focus and performed mainstage shows like “Oliver!” and Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”.

Headed up by Kaitlin Nihill as Belle and Adam Salter as the Beast, both stars in Ickle Pickle’s “Seussical the Musical” a couple of year back, the show is staged by award-winning direct Jordan Best, whose last show was Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Company”, at The Q.

Best is no stranger to Ickle Pickle Productions, having previously directed “The Emperor’s New Clothes” in 2008 and “The Three Musketeers” in 2009, working with musical director Susan Davenport and, says Watson. “Beauty and the Beast” is the most ambitious show to date but luckily, as well as Best and Davenport, they’ve engaged Australian Ballet-trained Jodi Hammond as choreographer.

One of the longest running Broadway shows in history, with a total of 5,461 performances over

13 years, the stage version of “Beauty and the Beast” derives from the 1991 film of the same name, which in turn was adapted from the French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont.

You know the story. After angering an enchantress by refusing her shelter, a young prince is turned into a beast and a spell placed upon his castle. Unless the prince can learn to love and be loved, before his 21st birthday, he will remain a beast forever. Ten years later, a man named Maurice seeks refuge in the castle and is quickly captured by the Beast, who later allows Maurice’s daughter, Belle, to take her father’s place as his prisoner. The rest is not history, it’s legend.

Ickle Pickle Productions presents Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” at Belconnen Theatre, Swanson Court Belconnen, January, 8 – 23, bookings to or 6275 2700.

Photo by Bec Doyle Photography.

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Helen Musa

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