Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Beauty & The Beast - Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Beauty and the Beast
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman & Tim Rice
Book: Linda Woolverton
Director: Alison Pollard
Choreographer: Alison Pollard
Reviewer: Ruth Lovett

Half term would not be complete with out a trip to the theatre and this half term week sees the tried and tested Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast return to the Sheffield Lyceum. Ever popular with adults and children alike, this feel good show is always a crowd pleaser and serves as a reminder to the quality of Alan Menken’s work with a delightful score that continues to thrill audiences year on year.

Beauty and the Beast tells the tale of a young prince who is turned in to a beast as punishment for being selfish and spoiled by an enchantress disguised as an old beggar woman offering him a single rose in return for shelter on a cold, dark winter’s night. When the prince turns down the simple gift, the beautiful enchantress reveals herself and casts a spell on the Prince and his household which can only be broken if the Prince can learn to love and be loved in return. The rose offered as a gift was enchanted and to break the spell, Prince must learn to love before the last petal falls or remain a Prince forever.

To remain true to the Disney story the production requires lavish sets and relies quite heavily on strobe lighting (David Howe), pyrotechnics, animation and at times, rather excessive amounts of dry ice to create the feeling of magic and to bring the fairytale to life which delights the audience, particularly the children. The variety of costumes (Elizabeth Dennis) used bring the characters to life in a unique way, notably Lumiere the candlestick (Phil Barley) and the ensemble when portraying the various items if tableware, cutlery and crockery in the charming ‘Be Our Guest’ sequence.

This is a well rehearsed cast who, on the whole, produce a confident and well executed show and for me, the ensemble in this production really make the show, particularly in ‘Be Our Guest’ as the audience enjoy identifying the various kitchen items and the Chris Cage as the carpet is a pleasure to watch. Gaston (Ben Harlow) provides the slap stick comedy moments which can be a little excessive at times but perfect for children who find it hysterical when he routinely ridicules poor Lefou (Andrew Margerison at this performance) and Ashley Oliver as Belle and Shaun Dalton as the Beast capture the essence of Belle and the Beast respectively well although Belle does seem to be won over by the Beast very quickly and without much resistance.

Overall this production is charming and great viewing especially for families. Although not particularly emotionally challenging, Beauty and the Beast is a classic and will undoubtedly continue to thrill audiences for many years to come.

runs until Sat 31 Oct.
frontpage hit counter