BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch
24/04/2013 - 04/05/2013
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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