Beauty and the Beast

By Nigel Watson

Beauty and the Beast, Photo Credit Ashlee Mlambo

Beauty and the Beast, Photo Credit Ashlee Mlambo

To celebrate their 25th Anniversary, the Plymouth University’s Musical Theatre Group (MTG) brings the magic of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to the stage for the people of Plymouth.

The short prologue shows an enchantress who is disguised as an ugly beggar seeking shelter from a storm at the prince’s castle. The selfish prince, played by Sean Wills a graduate member of MTG, refuses her plea, and she promptly reveals herself to be a beautiful woman who condemns him to become a beast until he learns to love someone aside from himself.

 

Dhru Shah is excellent as the eccentric inventor Maurice, father to the beautiful and book-loving Belle, played ably by Ellie Lunt. Sam Spears, plays Gaston the village brute who thinks he is God’s gift to women. Three ‘silly’ girls Amy Rossiter, Beth Chudley and Kerenza Jeffery follow him around the town but as we all know in the story, Gaston isn’t interested in them; instead he pursues Belle, no matter how many times she rejects his advances.

At the beast’s castle we are introduced to Cogsworth, played by Leah Philpot a first year Games Art and Design student and Lumiere played by George Back. Cogsworth is a twitchy servant who is morphing into a clock, they play a fine double act with the bright and outgoing Lumiere who, as his name suggests, is turning into a candelabra. Lumiere also sings and dances with the flirtatious feather duster French maid Babette, played by Annabel Latham. Other residents of the castle are Mrs Potts, played by Anna Watson in her first year in the group who ‘pours herself’ into the role of a teapot, accompanied by her son Chip the cup played by theatre student Bethan Dummett. Not forgetting, Joanne Povall’s portrayal of an opera diva who is rapidly becoming a wardrobe…

Beauty and the Beast, Photo Credit Ashlee Mlambo

Beauty and the Beast, Photo Credit Ashlee Mlambo

Beauty and the Beast

Under the direction of MTG regular Sam Pomeroy this is a production that elicits wonderful individual performances, combined and contrasted with boisterous scenes that involve the whole ensemble. The tavern scene is particularly rambunctious, and when the cast runs around the castle in fear of the servants it is an amusing echo of the ghost chasing scenes in the Scooby Doo cartoons. Considering the number of scene changes and size of the cast, the first night went very smoothly and was testament to the skill and dedication of everyone on and off the stage.

The singing and performance by Sean Wills as the beast is commanding and powerful, contrasting nicely with Ellie Lunt’s bookish and self-effacing Belle. Anna Watson in her role as a common maidservant turned teapot, provides a strong and amusing singing voice, and Sam Spears’ role as the arrogant Gaston is equally outstanding.

Jessica Emmett does a brilliant job of choreographing such a large cast on a relatively small stage, and the live band conducted by Laura Fox gives a thrilling accompaniment to the stage action and singing.

The whole production is a bright, amusing and lively magical journey that shows us the importance of love and of being human. This is a perfect show to blow away the gloom of Winter and celebrate the coming of Summer and 25 years of the MTG

Running at the Main Hall of the Davy Building at Plymouth University from Wednesday 14 March to Saturday 17 March at 7.30pm. There is an additional 2.30pm matinee performance on 17 March

Tickets and further information here