BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

24/04/2013 - 04/05/2013

Production Details



A MAGICAL SCHOOL HOLIDAY TREAT  

This school holiday, The Court Theatre presents a classic fairytale… with some unexpected twists. Featuring performers from The Court’s summer musical Grease, Beauty and the Beast is full of magic, mystery, adventure and fun.

Preserving the integrity and core themes of this much-loved fairytale, playwright still brings a sense of freshness and imagination to the script. In a past interview with The Lumière Reader, Gregory offered some advice for those wishing to produce children’s theatre; “Don’t patronize the children. They are incredibly perceptive and savvy and can smell condescension a mile away. Just tell a good story with characters they will care about. Fart and snot gags are always useful as well.”

In her journey to see beyond the Beast’s appearance and discover his true heart, our heroine Beauty is faced with a magic mirror, a big scary storm, a collection of silly sisters and a Marmite-loving Sea Captain.

“It’s silliness with a purpose” says Director, Melanie Camp, who directed the sell-out season of The Gingerbread Man during the 2012 school holidays. “The great thing about children’s theatre is that we can challenge children to think about the consequences of their choices, learn between right and wrong, and even help them face their fears – all of this in a vibrant, interactive and fabulously silly theatrical experience.”

Beauty and the Beast will feature new music by Luke Di Somma and will also incorporate the use of stage revolves and special lighting effects that are sure to enchant children and adults alike.

Beauty and the Beast runs from 24 April to 4 May.
Performances are 11am and 1pm daily on weekdays
and 11am only on Saturdays.
All tickets are $9. 




Fresh delights from old tales

Review by Lindsay Clark 24th Apr 2013

The word will be out: there is talent to spare in this re-told tale.  

From writing to playing and lighting to costume, the production is one to gladden the what-to-do -today blight that sometimes befalls school holidays. Add to all that some spot-on music from the able Luke Di Somma and The Court has a quality production on offer.

From the opening moments, when the abstract main bill set of The Women is transformed by music and light into a storytelling mood, punctuated dramatically by her two squabbling ugly sisters spoiling things for the virtuous Beauty, it is clear that Greg Cooper’s authorship and Melanie Camp’s inventive direction are going to work together very well.

Every kidlet understands the shifting dynamics of threesomes and every parent or older will be relishing the John Key allusions and the Delilah references as the story proper gathers momentum. 

Unlike many reconfigurations of the old tales, this one does hang together without the padding showing through. Marmite merchant Pa goes off to claim the bounty of his newly-arrived cargo, only to hear the worst from a neatly inserted pirate. The ship and his livelihood are lost. 

Thus we arrive with him at the Beast’s palatial residence, full of exciting revolve stage pieces and, of course, the rose which he purloins for Beauty, setting up the debt of service which she will have to undertake. This, in spite of the Beast’s hairy hulking appearance, she carries out devotedly.

Enter another splendid invention, the talking mirror who has grown tired of mere reflection. This device helps open Beauty’s eyes to the inner worth of the Beast, as well as tidily narrating the bits between action stints – all very smooth and stylish. 

Di Somma’s musical numbers heighten key moments wonderfully, and are charged with a sweet/strong presence often reserved for adult productions. Annie Graham’s costumes are fairy-tale perfect and also work well for quick changes. 

As always though, it is the cast who ultimately deliver the delights of live performance. The three actors involved are right on top of the game.

Rutene Spooner is very funny as a dreadful sister and a splendid presence as Beast. Lucy Porter has to work very hard to move from sister to father to mirror, but she makes light of the challenge and contributes three strong roles.

The trio is completed by Isla Brentwood’s Beauty, as charming a maiden as we could wish for. All three have fine voices and their songs earn happy applause from a young audience where open response usually has to be invited. 

The Court version then, proves yet again that the spell of live theatre can weave fresh delights from old tales. Somewhere in there is the moral about appearances and inner worth, but really, it is the magic which wins the day. 

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Scrambled tale delights

Review by Lindsay Clark 07th Oct 2008

This holiday concoction is generously packed with the sort of thing that keeps the tiddlers happily engaged – short scenes, the appropriate mix of wacky and loveable characters, paint box fresh costumes and snappy choreography. This is not even counting audience involvement ploys and the laugh bait written in for adult attendees. The name of the game is fun and the fleeting final message about personality counting more than looks is just a nod in the direction of the purists who like their fables to reach deeper than laughter. The young audience likes things very well the way they are.

One successful¬† addition to the story (as far as my 5 year old fairy tale connoisseur and I were able to recall) is the magic mirror, the one that gets no gratitude for messing up the ‘fairest of them all’ reply in other stories. Here, the mirror is a major communicator cum narrator, a wonderful excuse to bring in quick physical play and a teasing test of quick changes for the actor concerned.

In fact all three in the cast are in rattling good form, Beauty (Torum Heng) meeting the exacting requirements of my companion, as a ‘nice person for a friend’ sort of heroine, as well as being adjudged ‘very pretty’.

In the multiple roles peopling the rest of the story (though not necessarily powering it along) Javier Jarquin and Daniel Bain are often exuberant and infectiously over the top in their capers. The audience was thoroughly delighted with its part in the action too, providing thunder, various rooms of the Beastly Prince’s palace and a wonderful rain gag sequence with the sort of unconstrained enthusiasm which lifts children’s theatre into something delightful, no matter how banal the material.

All up, this is a polished and not too predictable holiday treat for those who can take their tales a little scrambled in the name of entertainment.
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