Theatre Review: Beauty and the Beast

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Film Review: The Gallows & Ant Man

The Gallows

There were a surprising number of people at last night’s showing of The Gallows and I later discovered that most of the audience were cinema staff, which explained why there was so little talking. Bliss!

Sadly, that’s the best that can be said of this lacklustre ‘horror’ movie. Charlie is being touted as the next big horror icon, the slogan declaring that Jason has his machete, Freddy has his glove, and Charlie has his noose, implying that Charlie is going to be equally disturbing as those horror greats.

Unfortunately, he isn’t.

In fact, Charlie barely features in the film and there’s no real menace about the character when he does. The film had me questioning a lot of things and not all of my questions were answered in the typical twist ending. Of course, there was the obvious “why are they splitting up?” and the less obvious “is knocking over a fake tree really going to get the show cancelled?” but there were so many other dubious decisions on behalf of the characters that in the end, I stopped questioning and started wondering how much longer I was going to have to endure this boring, derivative piece of drivel.

One of the big things about Jason’s machete and Freddy’s glove is that you know there’s going to be blood involved when they come out. A noose simply doesn’t have the same kind of menace, even though it kills just as effectively.

In short, it just wasn’t scary, although judging by the discussions of my fellow audience members afterwards, I was in the minority opinion.

2 out of 5 stars.

If you enjoyed this, you’ll also enjoy The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity

Ant Man

In contrast, I loved Ant Man!

OK, it didn’t bring anything really new to the superhero table, but anything with Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas in is going to get my vote and the film was funny, the characters (mainly) well drawn beyond the usual caricatures and the little references to other Marvel films, as well as the encounter with the Falcon were nicely done in such a way that if this was your first Marvel film (where have you been??) it wouldn’t really have mattered.

Fast paced and with enough plot to entertain while explaining the origins of Ant Man, the casting was almost perfect, although I wasn’t convinced by Judy Greer as Maggie Lang, Scott/Ant Man (Paul Rudd)’s ex.

I wasn’t able to see it in 3D, which is my usual preference, but I didn’t feel that I was missing out on anything – with a good 3D film, you can see where it would have been amazing. I’m not sure that paying for the privilege of a little psychedelia during the subatomic scenes would have been worth it.

Still, seeing this immediately after The Gallows was a real pick me up and this is one of those films I’ll happily watch again and again.

4 out of 5 stars

If you liked this, you’ll also like Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron