A tale as old as time, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has been magically brought to life onstage. Spectacular theatre arts – including terrifying illusions, a scintillating live orchestral score, and expertly designed sets and costumes – all transport the delighted audience into a world of fun, enchantment and true love in true Disney style.
From the moment theatregoers step into the Playhouse’s auditorium, the impressive backdrop of roses, together with the shadowy figures of the eponymous characters, looms large from the stage, tantalising the audience for what is to come.
Everyone knows the story. A selfish prince who doesn’t understand that looks can be deceiving and that beauty comes from within is cursed to live as a beast forevermore unless the spell, which has also transformed everyone who works in the castle into usually inanimate household objects, can be broken. And what will break it? Well true love’s kiss, of course. Enter Belle, considered peculiar in her local village and soon entering the Beast’s castle to rescue her wayward father, she trades her place for his and becomes a prisoner in a castle where the furniture can talk – and sing, and dance.
Gavin Lee is wonderful as the charismatic candlestick Lumiere, and his comedy double act with Nigel Richards’ Cogsworth the clock provides plenty of laughter for the audience – though perhaps too much for a musical production, giving the show something of a pantomime feel. Nevertheless, there is plenty of traditional musical elements as well. Big dance numbers, including a particularly showy and colourful rendition of ‘Be Our Guest’ and the hearty, cup-clinking ‘Gaston’, give the audience plenty to smile about and the singing throughout is note perfect.
Both the leads – Courtney Stapleton as Belle and Alyn Hawke as Beast – give wonderful performances from beginning to end. And when Stapleton walks down the stairs as the transformed princess there is an audible gasp at the beauty of the famous ‘Belle dress’ designed by Ann Hould-Ward.
The spell is eventually broken and the performers take their rapturous applause. Enjoy this little bit of magic in Edinburgh while you can.