by Rebekkah Law (Guest Blogger)
Under the guidance of debut Director, Reagan Warner, and Intern Director, Matthew Bapty, Disney’s classic French fairy tale is brought to life. Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a beautiful and intelligent young girl, Belle (Georgia Burnett), who is considered a bit “odd” by her provincial village. When her Father (Tony Ahchay) is imprisoned by a hideous Beast (Lindsay Cooper) in the woods, Belle courageously takes his place as prisoner. The castle’s enchanted staff; Mrs Potts (Kristie Pitt), Lumiere (Liam Wigney), Cogsworth (Liam J. Kirkpatrick), Babette (Stephanie Inches) and Madame Le Grande Bouche (Maddi Coleman) are excited by the possibility that the young maiden will teach the Beast to love again, reversing an enchantment which is turning them into household objects and the Prince into a Beast. As time goes on, the magical rose marking the time left to break the spell loses its petals. It is only when the Beast allows Belle to leave the castle that the two discover their true feelings for each other and are able to reverse the spell.
Beauty and the Beast proved a tricky show to attempt with such a small, female heavy cast; however, the production team have showed discerning ability to find and work with cast strengths to make full cast spectacle scenes such as Belle and Be Our Guest work. I was impressed by the rich, full sound the cast produced in Kill the Beast, a credit to Musical Director, Lucas D. Lynch. Lynch’s orchestra, featuring Grace Lutheran College students, improved dramatically throughout the show, providing sublime accompaniment for performers. Leads Georgia Burnett and Lindsay Cooper both delivered powerful and moving vocal performances, shining in Home and If I Can’t Love Her, respectively.
Undoubtedly, Liam Wigney and Liam Kirkpatrick stole the show as Lumiere and Cogsworth. The dynamic duo had a great sense of camaraderie and excellent comedic presence, showcasing talent well beyond their years. Also of note was Timothy Kennedy’s “practically primeval” Gaston and Stephanie Inches’ saucy Babette- both performers perfectly portraying their Disney counterparts with flair. RMT newcomers Zachary Crisan (Lefou) and Maddi Coleman (Madame Le Grande Bouche) also performed admirably with near perfect vocal delivery. The ensemble sometimes lacked energetic presence; however, Jai Jackson and Georgia Gleeson lifted this energy with the enthusiasm and commitment they radiated.
On the technical side of things, Bruce Noy’s lighting design, whilst not always effectively operated, made use of a range of symbolic colours and spotlights to enhance the stage action, including the well-played transformation of the Beast. It would have been nice; however, to have drawn more attention to the rose, as this is central to story progression and increasing tension. I feel stage space could have been utilised more effectively, as action felt cramped at points- especially in Belle’s bedroom. Costumes were bright and colourful, giving the show the vibrant and story book feel it deserves. More work needs to be done on finding audio balance; the orchestra sometimes overpowered performers and the production was overall too loud for the audience. I was particularly impressed by efficient scene changes, the sign of a well prepared backstage team, headed by Brodie Jones, mentored by Christina Meredith.
Congratulations should be extended to all the youths involved in the mounting of this production. Beauty and the Beast delighted audiences, bringing smiles to the faces of young and old. The production was by no means perfect but it did capture the essence of Disney wonderfully, an accomplishment all should be proud of.
by James Bovill (Guest Blogger)
Hi. I'm James Bovill. I and Chris Pallant will be portraying Doctor Dillamond in Wicked starting this July. I am over the moon to be playing Dillamond. Partly this is because of when I get to play the role. RMT's production of Wicked will be the first to be based in Queensland. The competition was fierce and the performers are intimidatingly good; I am watching my castmates achieve things in days that elsewhere might take months. The venue is the RCC Matthew Flinders Theatre, a space that many would kill for the opportunity to perform in. The staging and costuming for this show will create a legacy that will be informed in many ways by our performers' choices. I'm deeply honoured by the opportunity. However I'm also keen to play Dillamond because I think his role is central to the plot. This might seem a bold claim, you might think, seeing as he is neither green nor blonde. Well, I believe I can back this up.
Dillamond is a Goat who teaches history at Elphaba and Glinda's alma mater, Shiz University. Through Dillamond, we're introduced to the pretext for the show's underlying conflict: something bad is happening to the Animals of Oz. Dillamond talks about it to his class at length. In his second scene, he is arrested and removed, and the ball starts rolling.
Uniquely among the principals, Dillamond doesn't have more than a professional relationship with any of the other characters, except for a shared respect and moment of truth with Elphaba in his first scene. Because he is socially distant, his strong political views attract more criticism than anything, especially from Galinda, who accuses him of harping on about the past, and ultimately from Madame Morrible, who is implied to have turned him in.
Despite his lack of finesse and of closeness with the leads, however, Dillamond doggedly sets dominoes toppling even when he is not on stage. Galinda becomes Glinda because of him. At the end of Act I, his arrest, combined with the revelation of the Wizard's schemes, drives Elphaba to break with the Wizard even if she must become the Wicked Witch. His appearance in Act II as a caged animal gives an indecisive Elphaba the push she needs. Dillamond is important enough to her that she mourns him in her mad scene, “No Good Deed”, alongside her own sister and her lover.
People have told me Dillamond is a depressing, nihilistic character because of his ultimate fate. I believe quite the opposite. I believe the lesson that Dillamond teaches is this: if you're going through hell, keep going. Tell what you know to be the truth. Stand up for what you know to be right, no matter the cost. The moment in which your conviction and passion shines through might be the moment that someone else needs to recognise what they truly believe and what people are capable of. You don't owe it only to yourself – all that is required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Glory is reserved to those who try.
That's what Dillamond means to me, and that's why I am so proud to play him.