Beauty, the Beast and 55 other Stars at the Plough Arts Centre Torrington Devon
PUBLISHED: 10:51 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:48 20 February 2013
Adam Hilton reviews Disney's Beauty and The Beast at The Plough Arts Centre
Adam Hilton reviews Disneys Beauty and The Beast at The Plough Arts Centre
Oh, what a glorious noise they made! Mind you, when youve got a cast of fifty seven, all you have to do is put a few dozen on the stage, drill em to military heights and the songs will come belting out.
Theres another good thing about having a big cast you dont have to build any props. The chest of drawers was distinctly alive (Vicky Cutting) as was the clock (Jack Lea). The teapot and tea cup acted (Libbie Turner and Araminta Pain) And at dinner I counted twenty four very shiny knives and forks dancing about. Even the napkins were human Breton actually, with black berets and stripy t-shirts. They did a nifty can-can.
And when the excellent castle set ran out of adaptability, despite its multiple entrances and exits, windows, balconies, steps, stairs, the cast just built a village on stage in a couple of ticks.
One of the functions of a musical is to get the audience to fall in love a little. No man can have left the theatre without having his heart strings tugged by Imogen Johns Belle, a very poised performance. Blondes came in threes and giggled and screamed in a very realistic manner (Connie Harris, Bryony Threadgould, Kayleigh Newcombe).
I am not sure who the women in the audience would have fallen in love with. Gaston (Jack Bailey) thought he was Gods gift, but the girls on stage didnt seem to agree. He was always showing us his not massively impressive biceps, although he did chuck his buddy Le Fou (nice, nutty performance, Dexter Newman) around the stage with impressive nonchalance.
The poor old Beast (Callum Binns) spends most of the evening hidden under his beastly head so not much time to fall for him. Freddy Lawrence, as Belles father, had to expend all his efforts on being old, whereas Lumiere (Steve Newman) made the most of his chances. Apart from anything else he had easily the best French accent and we all know what charmers the French are.
Beauty and the Beast began as La Belle et la Bete, an eighteenth century French fairy tale. There was a wonderfully spooky film version by Jean Cocteau in 1947 and then Disney animated it twenty years ago. It made Broadway too and this was the basis for the Plough production. I guess the witty bits are down to Tim Rices lyric writing. The rest was all Plough and marvellous.