DIRECTOR Casey White’s “storybook” production of the Disney musical, “Beauty and the Beast”, tells the well-known story briskly but with clarity and sincerity.
Charlotte Gearside is compelling as lead Belle, with a wonderful voice and wry humour. Her maternal take on the character works well, even if she is unusually serene for a hostage.
This plays well against Lachlan McGinness’ Beast. McGinnis uses his imposing voice to demand obedience, but the restrictive costume limits his ability to have a menacing physical presence.
The cursed servants are a delight, with Pippen Carroll shining brightly as Lumiere. At one point I wondered if Belle would ditch the beast and scamper away with the candlestick.
Liam Jones gives a welcome reprise of the role of Gaston, approaching the part with playful conviction.
Choreography by Madelyn White went beyond the skill of the cast. The creative clanking of tankards in the tavern scene works better than the overambitious attempt to recreate a Broadway extravaganza in “Be Our Guest”.
“Beauty and the Beast” is a demanding show to costume, with many highly specialised costumes necessary.
That said, costumes by Heather Palazzi and Lucy Francis are serviceable, but resources were clearly stretched thin.
It was hard to take the Beast seriously in his fluffy booties. Stripping the monster parts at the end was ridiculously involved, and not helped by an absurdly overused smoke machine that blots the reveal. A faster change should have been built into the costume design.
“Beauty and the Beast” will beguile people who love the Disney movie: if invited to “be a guest”, make it a day trip rather than an extended stay.
“Beauty and the Beast”, directed by Casey White and musical director Caleb Campbell, at Erindale Theatre until March 23. Reviewed by JOHN LOMBARD.