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.