I took one very excited 8 year old daughter down to the depths of Cardiff this morning to see Beauty and the Beast at the Everyman Open Air Theatre Festival.
Based on the Disney film of the same name, the show features most of the musical numbers from the film and presents a slightly edited version of the story, perfect given just how many small children were watching. Running at just over an hour, there were no tears or tantrums from the transfixed audience.
When Charlotte Tonge (Belle) started singing the first song, I initially thought she was miming to the film’s soundtrack. Yes, she was that good and it set the bar high for a production that didn’t disappoint. My daughter is a huge fan of the film, so she was always going to be especially critical of any stage production, but apart from complaining that she wanted it to be longer (always a good sign!), she said that it was “pretty awesome” as well as “amazing.” She loved Lumiere the best and she cracked up at Lumiere yelling at the Beast (Ben Joseph Smith) to dance with Belle.
There was some amazing group choreography and the staging was very nicely done, albeit a little heavy on the smoke machines at times! The Prince’s transformation into the Beast involved the clever use of curtains and costume and the costumes for the Beast’s staff were beautifully done. If you love the Disney film, you really won’t be disappointed – Be Our Guest and The Mob Song were truly spectacular and the vocals were highly impressive throughout.
The leads were all very strong, but I felt that the real stars were in the supporting cast, with Helen Flanagan (Mrs Potts), Ethan Price (Lefou) and Kerry Dwyer (Lumiere) the stand out performances for me. There were some definite future stars in the making on the stage.
All in all, it was another exceptional performance from the Everyman Theatre Festival and it’s left me very excited about going to see As You Like It, next week.
I urge you to get tickets while you still can – with only a week left of the festival, you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss out!
5 out of 5 stars!