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Beauty and the Beast – Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

Writer: Mike Kenny

Director: Matt Aston

Musical Director and Composer: Julian Butler

Designer: Lydia Denno

Reviewer: Laura Stimpson

[rating:4]

This year’s festive offering from Lawrence Batley Theatre is a brand new musical version of Beauty and the Beast, by Olivier award winner Mike Kenny. Kenny’s family adaptations are a huge hit in theatres across the country, and this version of Beauty and the Beast is certainly no exception.

Kenny’s version of Beauty and the Beast is witty and clever. It does what all great family theatre does, appealing to both children and adults – not an easy thing to achieve! We watch while Beauty turns from a self-obsessed, spoilt and vain young lady, into a mature woman who appreciates her family and learns to see inner beauty.

The play only has four actors, but it certainly doesn’t feel small scale. The set, designed by Lydia Denno, is grand and beautiful, all of the actors have powerful voices and command the stage, they are onstage for the majority of the performance, which keeps the attention of the audience throughout.

Beauty’s father loses their family fortune, so they are forced to leave their beautiful home with servants to move to the country. The servants go along to the country home with them, unpaid, and it is unveiled that ‘cook’ is actually in charge of Beauty’s fate. When she discovers that her son is in love with Beauty she goes to extreme lengths to bring them together.

This is a true ensemble piece and all four actors deserve a mention. Darren Benedict plays Beauty’s father and the Butler in the Beast’s house, he performs well throughout and shines in some of the darker musical numbers. Julian Hoult as the Beast and Frances gives two equally fantastic character performances, he is hilarious in his rôle as Frances, the bumbling, shy young man and his interpretation of the Beast is equally as hilarious at times as it is commanding, playing the rôle with great finesse and singing beautifully. Helen Woolf is Beauty, she is perfectly cast in this rôle, she has a stunning singing voice and sings some extremely demanding songs with great ease. Last, but certainly not least is Laura Sheppard, she is a pleasure to watch throughout. She plays the ‘mumsy’ cook perfectly, has the audience laughing out loud and sings with great finesse in a number of styles.

The music, composed by Julian Butler is upbeat and catchy, with a number of styles of music throughout, this works well to change the mood and pace of the show. The choreography by Emma Annetts is tight, clever and amusing. The cast make the most of all that is available to them on stage, the set is extremely clever and is made to resemble 3 different houses. Dusters become wolves, kitchen equipment becomes a dolls house, and the audience does not question it.

This version of Beauty and the Beast really makes the most of all aspects of great family theatre. It is sure to be a hit with anyone lucky enough to catch it this holiday. This is a fun, family treat and the perfect gift from Lawrence Batley theatre this Christmas.

Runs until Sunday 30 December 2012

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6 comments

  1. Avatar

    Really sorry but this production is so so boring, 2/3 hour in and no beast just a lot of singing about cleaning and tiding the house. So confusing for the children. Costumes terrible. No beautiful dresses which the children were expecting. We had being looking forward to this for ages but so disappointing. Children were bored and hadn’t got a clue what was going on

  2. Avatar

    This production was billed as a theatrical production and that is what it delivered. Its great to see beauty and the beast performed in this way and not just as a pantomime. The cast were brilliant and the musical numbers were enchanting! Helen Woolf played the role of Beauty amazingly! Laura (the cook) played the role impeccably and her mumsy role brought warmth and comfort and her voice .. Just WOW!! I took my family on xmas eve and we all went in taking in to account this was not the traditional story we all know and remember, therefore we enjoyed even more!!

    Well done to Engine House!!

  3. Avatar

    Absolutely bored us to tears. Went on christmas eve with a very excited 6 year old girl. She didn’t have a clue what was going on and was very disappointed. Half of the audience left at the interval! Emailed a complaint to LBT but needless to say we have not recieved a response. Im assuming we weren’t the only ones that complained! Dark and boring costumes, no scene changes, no jokes either! Extremely disappointed on christmas eve.

  4. Avatar

    I have to agree with other post, (Not good for children under 15 years of age and to be honest not good for adults! Interesting take of this famous children’s tale but overhaul not what you would expect for a Festive production.4/10 Sorry.Left after first half £60 waist-ed…

  5. Avatar

    I think people went to see this production expecting a panto , I for one was pleased that it wasn’t ! I do believe the show didn’t hit its mark with the huddersfield audience and should perhaps have a run more appreciative of a different show .

  6. Avatar

    we went to lbt on christmas eve with 2 children as we had enjoyed the snow queen the year before. Kids were not at all engaged and husband went to sleep. Very disappointing