With a wide range of re-tellings and adaptation, Beauty and the Beast is arguably one of the worlds most beloved fairy tales. It features flawed protagonists, empowering women and of course, one of the most iconic love stories of all time.
While this story is hundreds of years old, the perhaps most recognisable adaptation is the Disney animated classic from 1991. Over the years this beautiful film has become a firm fan favourite and to this day remains beloved by audiences across the world.
The film launched Disney into a new era when it became their first animated film to be adapted into a Broadway musical in 1994. The show has received several revivals and has toured both the US and UK multiple times, with the most recent production opening at the Bristol Hippodrome last night.
When adapting such a popular film, a production will always come under intense scrutiny from fans and critics alike. Will the show meet high expectations? Can the team bring something new to the table? I am honestly thrilled to say that the answer is yes.
Despite being nearly 20 years old, the latest revival of Beauty and the Beast still manages to feel fresh with a range of stunning new costumes and sets, all while maintaining the charm from the original film.
Devoted fans will recognise iconic lines such as “You should learn to control your temper” and “After all this time, he’s finally learnt to love”, while also being treated to new scenes and plot developments. The show also contains a handful of “new”* numbers to make the already remarkable score that bit more impressive. While the show does closely follow the original script, it is not a carbon copy and can certainly stand on its own two feet.
Over the past year we have seen a huge change in the theatre industry, with many producers and content creators turning to the world of digital productions. This change made the industry more accessible than ever and opened a variety of new staging opportunities.
As productions return to the stage, I find it fascinating to see the effect this has had on the standard idea of a stage show. For example, in Be Our Guest (a scene which can only be described as an absolute delight), audiences are treated to an exquisitely choreographed routine performed on the stage floor and projected onto a screen at the back of the stage. Teamed with the animated wolves in other scenes, this technology was impressive, but I just felt as though I wanted more. Instead of completely wowing, I felt as though we were given just a glimpse at the magic Disney can create on stage.
The whole cast within this production were remarkable, but I couldn’t sign off this review without giving a special mention to our Belle, Courtney Stapleton.
Courtney brought this stunning character to life with grace, sincerity and with killer vocals. She was everything and more you could want from a performer, and created the perfect role model for the young, wide-eyed audience members.
Beauty and the Beast felt familiar, like a warm hug from an old friend. It kept me smiling throughout and brought about some well needed happiness. I cannot recommend this production highly enough and want to thank Disney for bringing one of my favourite films back to life in such a beautiful manner.
Beauty and the Beast will be performing at the Bristol Hippodrome till Saturday 18th September before continuing on a UK tour. For more information or to book your tickets click here.
Performance Attended: 07/09/2021
Cast: Courtney Stapleton, Emmanuel Kojo, Gavin Lee, Tom Senior, Sam Bailey, Nigel Richards, Martin Ball, Samantha Bingley, Emma Caffrey, Louis Stockil and the fantastic team of ensemble and swing members
*When I say new, the numbers featured in the original 1994 Broadway production, but will be new to an audience who may only be familiar with the animated and live action films.
This review was originally posted on Centre Stage.