Review BH Beauty and the Beast 2021
Both beautiful and a little beastly
An overwhelming feeling of love emulated from the audience leaving the Bristol Hippodrome on Wednesday night, September 15, after watching the once upon a time fairy story of Beauty and The Beast.
It was beyond brilliant and for us a very welcome return to the theatre after the long, dark months of lockdown 1, 2 and 3.
On stage Beauty and The Beast played out so perfectly in the many ‘gosh’ and ‘gasp’ moments thanks to a marvellous cast backed by super sound, set, special effects, costumes and orchestra conductor - all par excellence.
This faultless, feelgood family show has the darkness of Phantom of the Opera mixed with influences of the Fred Astaire 1930s film Top Hat and the Folies Bergère.
The black and white of Hollywood yesteryear contrasts perfectly with the glamour of a mirrored kaleidoscope of colour choreographed in the style of Busby Berkely.
In fact, reviewing this performance it is difficult to choose who or what to single out for praise – it is a wonderful Broadway-style fantasy in song and every enchanting style of dance.
We had the cartoon characters of the 1991 Disney animation coming to life in this romantic fantasy based on a 18th century French fairy tale.
Like pantomime where you get your prince, princess, dame, baddie, the ups-and-downs of a romance with a bit of slapstick this musical is all that and much, much more.
We had bookish beauty Belle (Courtney Stapleton); her mad inventor father Maurice (Martin Ball), a sort of Professor Henry Higgins on a roadkill mobility scooter; horned beast (Emmanuel Kojo) with Kim Kardashian hips and big bum – he so cleverly transforms into a hunk with a heart in the closing moments; Gaston (Tom Senior) a boorish, vain suitor with big biceps and little brain understandably booed in final curtain call and his Buttons type sidekick the bumbling and tumbling Le Fou (Louis Stockil) and while there were standout performances from all the leads supporting actors including Lumiere (Gavin Lee) the charismatic, rebellious castle maître d', who was turned into a candelabra by the Enchantress's curse, head housekeeper Mrs Potts (Sam Bailey – X Factor winner 2013), Cogsworth (Nigel Richards) the ticking clock; Wardrobe (Samantha Bingley) and flirty French maid Babette (Emma Caffrey) with feather duster were all wonderful and their dialects added another dimension.
Last but not least we loved little Chip Potts (Rojae Simpson) who had a headlining part as we couldn’t see his body as he was in a cracked cup!
Cowered slightly at the sinister silhouetted wolves in the wood, admired greatly scenery backdrops and borders, the wooden Hobbit village and multi-storey library.
The moral of the story is ‘beauty is within’ and this is far more important that striding for the perfect body image – so now.
Packed to the rafters with people of all ages but despite a request to wear masks very few did unlike the Theatre Royal Bath the previous week, we were told. And like others no-one checked our Covid Passport which we were told was a necessary admission prerequisite?
We will be returning soon as there is nothing to beat live theatre.
Beauty and The Beast plays Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, September 18.
With limited tickets from £25 available for the remaining shows call the box office on 0844 871 3012 or go online www.atgtickets.com/Bristol.