Review by Michelle Fisher
Disney in any shape or form has always held a special place in our family, as it has for so many. It revives great memories of times spent in the parks themselves, watching countless Disney movies on virtual repeat cycles, and some spectacular theatre moments around the world spent watching amazing Disney productions including Lion King, Aladdin, Frozen and of course Beauty and The Beast.
The current production of Beauty and The Beast at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre does everything to keep that Disney magic alive. A gorgeous production of one of the most loved classics, the show is brought to life by a strong cast (with a notably hard working Ensemble), spectacular scenery, gorgeous costumes ,well executed choreography and an impressive display of illusions, lights and special moments that leave even adult audiences questioning “ how did that happen?’ I can only imagine the wonder of the younger members of the audience!
Beauty and the Beast was the first of the Disney musicals brought to the stage back in 1994 when Disney on Broadway was launched, and I dare say was a first introduction to musical theatre for very many people. This is true in my family where my daughter first saw a production of this just before her 3rd birthday - completely mesmerised she was enchanted by the original production and I was keen to see how this would work for me almost 30 years later. 3 decades on and this show is in fit shape and my personal love for it was completely rekindled by this exceptionally strong production.
On opening night, the cast proved not only wonderfully talented, but as a cohort, to be one of the strongest collective performances I have seen in Sydney Musical Theatre in the last few years. I’m told that The Australian production features a total cast of 34, backstage crew of 77 including musicians, an incredible 300 costumes, and 80 tonnes of scenery and automation. The finished product is a spectacle to be seen and polished at every turn. This is a lavish production where money was definitely spent creating the magic and it shows.
Shubshri Kandiah as Belle carried the show and the tunes gracefully and poignantly, portraying a slightly more feminist version of Belle than we have seen before (gone is the little white apron – this self-assured young woman is no one’s ‘little lady’). Seeing Disney freshen up a beloved character like this is exciting and promising.
Rohan Browne as Lumiere sings and dances with all the flair that we have become accustomed to in the animated version of this story and is definitely one of my personal favourites throughout the show. His every move is considered and perfect for his character, imbuing Lumiere with wit and charm. The rest of the objects that come to life in the castle are also portrayed wonderfully and between all of them almost steal the show.
Brendan Xavier as Beast, Jackson Head as Gaston, Gareth Jacobs as Cogsworth, Jayde Westaby as Mrs Potts, Orlando Steiner as Chip, Nick Cox as Le Fou Rodney Dobson as Maurice, Hayley Martin as Babette, Alana Tranter as Madame all round out an impressive cast and together with the hard working ensemble take you through this ‘tale as old as time’ that recreates all the special enchanting moments that this story has always evoked.
The two main production numbers ‘Gaston’ and ‘Be our Guest’ see the success of the production truly peak and has our opening night audience totally enraptured, jumping to a standing ovation at the conclusion of ‘Be Our Guest,’ despite being mid-Act! Matt West (choreographer), alongside Natasha Katz, Jim Steinmeyer and and Darrel Maloney (costumes, lighting and amazing effects) each deserve great kudos for their roles in making this number (and the show in general) a real ‘wow’ moment.
So many many people, cast and creatives work to bring a show like this to completion and this show really is a testament to all who worked on it and in it. A perfect night out for families, young theatre goes and all those young at heart who believe in the fairytale of true love and the magic that only Disney can create.