Beauty and the Beast
A Heart-warming Journey of Enchantment
Reviewed by Georgie Ridley
Step into a world where magic thrives, and love conquers all, by director and choreographer Matt West. The enchanting “Beauty and the Beast” musical at Capitol Theatre is a feast for the senses, leaving you with a heart full of warmth and a smile that lingers long after the final curtain falls. From the moment you step foot in the theatre, you are transported to a realm of beauty and wonder, where every detail has been meticulously crafted to create an immersive experience. Costume Design by the wonderful Ann Hould Ward deserves a standing ovation within itself.
As the orchestral music begins, directed by Luke Hunter and Danny Troob you are instantly captivated by the perfect encapsulation of emotion. The sweeping melodies settle the audience, preparing them for the breathtaking introduction that lies ahead. The characters, portrayed with a homely feel, draw you into their world, making you feel like part of their story. The warm and cartoon-inspired prop sets add a touch of whimsy, transporting you to a place where anything is possible.
One cannot help but be mesmerized by the impeccable accents and seamless timing of the performances. The impeccable timing and orchestrated chaos of the show are nothing short of amazing. From the moment the curtains rise, the stage comes alive with a flurry of meticulously choreographed movement and vibrant energy. Every inch of the stage is utilized in a masterful way, leaving no space untouched. This deliberate attention to detail creates a visually captivating and immersive experience, where every corner of the stage is teeming with life and purpose. The precision and coordination with which the performers navigate this dynamic environment is truly awe-inspiring, allowing the audience to be fully engaged and swept away in the enchanting whirlwind of the production; There are no lulls between acts, as the show effortlessly flows from one scene to another, keeping you engaged and eager for more. The attention to detail and clever use of props creates a captivating experience, with ensemble performances that showcase intricate choreography and intricate details.
While Gaston’s energetic number is a standout, it is “Be Our Guest” that truly steals the show, leaving the audience in awe and prompting a well-deserved standing ovation. The blended styles of dance, with Tap taking centre stage, exemplify the remarkable talent and extensive training of the ensemble and cast. Every beat is executed with precision, leaving you spellbound.
The understudy for Gaston (Jackson Head) delivers a flawless performance, hitting all his cues with confidence and charisma, truly owning the stage.
While it is worth acknowledging that Belle’s performance (Shubshri Kandiah) although incredibly strong occasionally pales slightly in comparison to the brilliant shine of the ensemble and supporting cast, who captivate with their compelling lines and standout roles, (Rohan Browne: Lumiere, Gareth Jacobs: Cogsworth, Mrs Potts: Jayde Westaby, Le Fou: Nick Cox, Mourice: Rodney Dobson. And my Favourites Madame: Alana Tranter and Babette: Hayley Martin) it is important to recognize the overall strength and vibrancy of the entire production. The talented ensemble and supporting cast infuse the show with energy and bring their characters to life in a remarkable way. Belle’s portrayal, while not stealing every scene, still contributes to the cohesive and enchanting experience, adding her own grace and charm to the tapestry of the musical. Nevertheless, the energy and commitment of the entire supporting cast create a refreshing balance, ensuring that each character leaves an indelible mark.
Lumiere’s presence brings much-needed comedic relief, captivating the audience with his charm and wit. The beautiful orchestral voice of the Beast, Brendan Xavier, particularly in the final scene before intermission, reveals a vulnerable and human side, deepening the emotional connection with the audience.
In comparison to the drawn-out nature of the movie, the musical version never feels long-winded. Every moment on stage is filled with excitement, capturing your attention and keeping you fully engaged throughout. The second half, while feeling a little smaller with the climactic intensity as the first, remains strong and delivers a satisfying continuation of the story.
The heartfelt song, “Human Again” within the library unites all the characters, reminding us of the power of unity and love. Amidst the grandeur of the set and the captivating performances (designed by Stanley A. Meyer scenic design, Natasha Katz lighting design, Jim Stein Meyer Illusion design), it is in these intimate exchanges that the musical takes on a deeply human dimension. Mrs. Potts, Jayde Westaby portrayed with grace and elegance, radiates a motherly love that envelops Chip, played with youthful innocence and curiosity. Their connection is beautifully nuanced, with each gesture and exchange conveying a depth of emotion that transcends words.
As the moment arrives for Belle’s iconic dress to be unveiled, a palpable anticipation fills the theatre. As the fabric cascades and the exquisite gown is revealed, a collective gasp of awe reverberates through the audience, a testament to the sheer beauty and attention to detail that defines the impeccable costume design of the production.
Shubshri Kandiah; in her portrayal of Belle, unveiling of Belle’s dress becomes an unforgettable highlight, igniting a sense of wonder and enchantment that transcends the stage. The meticulously crafted gown captures the essence of elegance and grace, its flowing lines and intricate embellishments a visual masterpiece that befits a tale as old as time. The artistry behind the costume design truly shines, effortlessly blending tradition with a touch of contemporary flair, resulting in a dress that is both timeless and breathtaking.
With every stitch and shimmer, the costume designers have successfully captured the essence of Belle’s character, accentuating her individuality and showcasing her transformation from an ordinary village girl to a resplendent princess. The dress becomes a symbol of empowerment, symbolizing the blossoming confidence and inner beauty that Belle embodies. Gaston’s demise, though it may be perceived as slightly underwhelming compared to the intricate details of the original tale, is transformed into a visually stunning moment through the skilful implementation of mesmerizing visual effects (Jim SteinMeyer and Darrel Maloney). These effects propel the narrative forward, adding an extra layer of depth and ensuring an utterly captivating spectacle that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.
The moment when the Beast undergoes his transformation into a human again is nothing short of touching and deeply poignant. The sheer artistry and craftsmanship that go into the props and effects during this pivotal scene are truly outstanding. As the Beast sheds his beastly exterior and emerges as a human, the combination of impeccable prop design and mesmerizing visual effects creates a truly magical and awe-inspiring moment. The attention to detail is breathtaking, allowing the audience to witness the profound beauty and symbolism of the Beast’s metamorphosis. It is a testament to the creativity and dedication of the production team, leaving the audience in awe of the transformative power of love and the extraordinary possibilities that lie within each and every one of us.
As the final moments of “Beauty and the Beast” at Capitol Theatre unfold and the curtains draw to a close, an electrifying energy fills the air. The resounding standing ovation that erupts throughout the theatre is a testament to the profound impact this musical has on its audience. It is a heart-warming journey of enchantment that transcends mere entertainment, leaving you with a renewed belief in the power of love, compassion, and the transformative nature of the human spirit. the story weaves its magic, captivating hearts and minds alike. The exceptional performances of the talented cast bring these beloved characters to life, infusing them with depth, authenticity, and a genuine connection that is felt in every scene. Their voices soar, their movements grace the stage, and their emotional portrayals leave an indelible mark on your soul. You are effortlessly drawn into their world, sharing their joys, sorrows, and triumphs. the profound emotional impact that lingers long after the final bow. Through the trials and tribulations faced by the characters, we witness the transformative power of love, as it softens the hardest hearts and mends broken souls. It reminds us that true beauty lies not in appearances, but in compassion, understanding, and the willingness to look beyond the surface. As the applause resonates through the theatre, it is clear that “Beauty and the Beast” has left an indelible imprint on the hearts of all who have experienced its magic. It reminds us of the power of storytelling, of the ability of art to touch our souls and remind us of our shared humanity. It renews our belief in the goodness that resides within each of us, and inspires us to embrace love, compassion, and the transformative power of acceptance.