Friday, 30 June 2017

"Beauty & The Beast" by Bright Lights Theatre Company.
Loughborough Town Hall.
There was a tingle of excitement and anticipation in the air, almost like panto, and the large curtain with the giant "Beauty & The Beast" shimmered. The music kicked in and the lights dimmed to reveal just the first of the enchanted sets for this show.
Now I know I'm getting on a bit and my memory may not be as good as it should be, but I kept forgetting things tonight. I forgot that these actors were just kids. I forgot that this was a local theatre production and I forgot that this wasn't some big expensive touring professional production, because all of the above could have been so.
The professionalism of all involved was way off the scale. I had loved "The Wizard Of Oz" but this show was something else.It's the most complex of shows and producers Nick Sutcliffe and Patrick Croft, along with Director Alexander Turner have created practically the most exquisite and enchanted piece of musical theatre.
We know the story of how to break the curse put upon the Prince, who was turned into a monster, The Prince had to get someone to love him for who he was and not what he looked like and Belle was that woman. Belle was being chased by Gaston, while she practised being chaste, and then there are the magical human trinkets in the palace of the Prince. A lovely fairy tale with a message for all to take away with us.
That's the story now let me get to this incredibly talented cast....
There's a different cast each show with a couple of constants, so this is the cast that I saw.
Abigail Coles was an enchanting Enchantress.
Max Jackson was wonderful as the Beast/Prince. He gave a wonderful character-soaked performance with wonderful physicality. His on stage relationship with Belle was lovely to watch progress.
Katie Bowes played Belle and the first thing that hits you about Katie is her amazing voice. So mature, and if that maturity is evident now at such an early age, I can't wait to see where that talent takes her in the next few years.A very natural performer who helped create that natural relationship with the Beast.
Loved the comedy, knockabout performance of Charlie Cound as LeFou, Gaston's right hand man,and he also has a decent voice as well which was highlighted in several spots.
Sam Bennett as Gaston was made for this role. He is very confident in comedy, something not too many young actors can pull off as well as Sam did. He also has a really good voice and can hold those notes as well. Great voice control, choreography and wonderful characterisation as the arrogant Gaston.
Frankie Storr was Maurice, Jonathan Leeming was the very sensible Cogsworth, Witiko Grevel was a marvellous Lumiere with a lovely "Allo Allo" style French accent, Emma Thorpe was a saucy but fun loving Babette, Eirlys Herring played Mrs Potts who gave a lovely version of "Beauty & The Beast", Charlie Ward played the adorable Chip (how did they get him in that cup I'll never know), Evie Hearne played Madame De La Grande Bouche, Holly Hunt was Madame D'Arque, the Ceonies were Charlotte Fowler, Sophie Bowles, Ella Sault and Chloe Tziatziafi. Finally the "silly girls" were played by Amira Richards, Jess Howick and Ella Rose Coyne.
And that's nor even mentioning any of the massive ensemble who were brilliant as well.
Lovely clear sound by Total Theatre and some enchanted lighting from David Fadesco.
The amazing scenery and sets were thanks to Prosceneium Theatrical Scenery Hire and made all the difference in this production.
Incredibly good costumes which all added that extra professional look and touch.
Sophie Kandola and Nick Sutcliffe were the choreographers and what a massive job they had, but all styles of dance were embraced well and executed with passion by these youngsters.
Zoe Curlett was the Musical Director and what a wonderful crisp sound was produced.
You know there was nothing that I could fault in this production and it was so lovely to hear the applause extended and so enthusiastic after every song and at the bows and curtain call a very well deserved standing ovation from every single person in that big theatre.
I had no one I knew in the cast but that "proud father" syndrome kicked in because I was so proud of all of those very talented young actors, i was practically welling up.
A resounding and massive success for every one involved on stage, back stage, the technical and production people, and all of those "invisible" people who are the cogs that make the theatre wheels turn.
I know Nick well enough to know that he is a talent pusher and he knows how to get the very best out of his theatre school and this show is proof of that hard work.
"Beauty & The Beast" is at Loughborough Town Hall only until Sunday 2 July 2017, but I have a feeling that tickets may now be sold out.

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