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BWW Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Rose Theatre

The Rose Theatre presents a visually arresting and modern take on the classic fairytale

BWW Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Rose Theatre

BWW Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, Rose Theatre After being cancelled last year, the traditional musical extravaganza at the Rose Theatre is back with a bang. Typically for the festive production, Beauty And The Beast brings together professional actors along with talented performers from the Rose Youth Theatre for a magical production.

We begin with on Christmas Eve, where three siblings are telling the story of Bella, a rich and privileged girl living with her father in Villeneuve. On her eighteenth birthday, Bella learns her father is dying. To find a cure for his illness, she must face the Beast who she believes put a curse on her father and sets out on an adventure across the perilous mountains.

The production brings together three veterans of Christmas productions at the Rose; writer Ciaran McConville, director Lucy Morrell and composer Eamonn O'Dwyer. McConville has created a story few will recognise from books or the Disney version of the story; Bella is an only child who has been hidden from the world by her father. She is aware of a mysterious rose kept locked away in the attic and knows she must find out its secret when her father begins to grow ill.

Crucially, this is not a romantic love story; Bella's father actively chooses wealth over his love for her mother and there is just friendship between Bella and the Beast. In truly modern fairytale style, the story focuses on themes of familial love, bravery and being sorry for your mistakes.

It is not always the most straightforward story. There is a lot of Latin used when talking about plants; the use of speaking mirrors is visually effective, but the echoes of different voices and the reasons for the original curse may be a little confusing for younger members of the audience.

Amelia Kinu Muus is a sweet, intelligent and slightly naïve Bella. She becomes aware of her lack of life experience as the story progresses, but also shows bravery when those she cares about are threatened. Kinu Muus has a good stage presence and a clear and sweet singing voice.

Stanton Wright is softly spoken and hunched over as a downtrodden Beast, who quickly flairs to anger when challenged. Oliver Senton is authoritative and flawed as Bella's father Francesco. Daniel Goode and Paula James are particularly good as servants René and Marguerite, although why they are East-End cockneys when the story is based in Switzerland is anyone's guess.

As always, the Rose Youth Theatre produces some excellent performers. On press night the Purple team were in the hot seat. Jacob Towey, Amelie Abbott and Alexander Forster are all very good as the story-telling siblings, with Abbott providing much of the comedy with her dead-pan delivery. Amy Lawrence is also suitably awkward as nice-but-dim Felice.

Nature is a main theme to the production; Bella is a self-taught naturalist and nature holds the key to freeing both her father and the Beast from the curse. Frankie Bradshaw's beautiful set moves from a children's attic to a mountain top, to a picture-perfect garden. Actors hold the stems of giant flowers as illuminated fireflies and a delicate butterfly glides past. Peter Todd's costume design excels with that of the Beast, who has plant tendrils bursting at the seams of his clothes as his curse overwhelms him.

Featuring more than one earworm, the music and energy of the production is infectious. If you are looking for a family-friendly alternative to a pantomime, head straight to the Rose Theatre.

Beauty And the Beast is at the Rose Theatre until 3 January 2022

Photo Credit: The Other Richard

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