Gareth Jacobs Hayley Martin Rohan Browne Jayde Westaby and Alana Tranter in Disney's Beauty and The Beast the Musical performing Human Again Photo by Daniel Boud

‘Beauty and the Beast’ // Disney Theatrical Group

‘Beauty and the Beast’ was effervescent.

Wow. Just, wow. Brisbane audiences were warmly welcomed last night, and wowed by the Australian production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Standing ovations lingered well beyond the rehearsed bows. There were no expenses spared and QPAC’s Lyric Theatre was packed with beautifully dressed patrons, sparkling in their best digs. Giggling children munched popcorn and slurped mocktail slushies for the grandeur that was the opening night. It was a fine spectacle indeed, and the audience was delighted with the sensational Belle and her brooding Beast. The cheers and whistles sounded early in the show for the sensational cast of beloved household staff and an ensemble of vibrant and versatile townsfolk.

The tale we all know – you remember the song – as old as time, leapt off the stage and filled the theatre with extravagant and perfectly timed lighting, streamer-glitter cannons and projected scenery within the audience stalls. Strobes created cracks of lightning and the character of the wolf was brought to life in projected images which shocked and amazed every patron. Rosy cheeks ached at the end of this show, its warmth penetrated throughout the hearts of the mixed crowd. There was synchronized swimming on stage. Yes, you read it correctly, 1950s style, horizontal dancing bodies, captured in real time by a birds’ eye camera and projected onto a screen as large as the stage below it. It was a truly mesmerizing feature which gained more gasps and applause from the delighted crowd.

But that’s not all. Far from it, in fact! An orchestra lead by Musical Director and Conductor Luke Hunter, executed the score without fault and created soundscapes of the mystical woods, bringing to life the timeless melodies we hold so dear. The orchestration resonated around the room and transported us back to the Disney film. If you closed your eyes, you were within the original movie score, the enhancements and musical acrobatics perfectly timed with the performers and special effects.

What an amazingly talented cast this is! Belle was performed by Shubshri Kandiah with a vibrato controlled as though generated by a machine and Brendan Xavier plays the frightening, yet kind-hearted Beast.

Other cast members to note are Rohan Browne in the role of Lumiere who delighted the audience with his hip-shaking and cheeky winks. The role of Gaston was performed by Brisbane born Jackson Head who created a stir with his boisterous, stage-diving and muscle-flexing rendition of ‘Gaston’.

Gareth Jacobs is perfect in the role of the time-keeping Cogsworth, and Gold Coast’s Jayde Westaby steals the show in her portrayal of Mrs Potts, with a voice as clear as crystal and an accent perfected to a tea (pun intended). Even a younger patron near to this reviewer made the comment on the dedication to the role and how tiresome it must be to hold your arm out for the duration of the show, time after time!

Sidekick Le Fau is played by a bouncy and comedic Nick Cox, Belle’s father by the experienced Rodney Dobson, Queenslander Hayley Martin shines as the brazen Babette and Alana Tranter tickles us with her vocal squeals as the mischievous Madame feather-duster. The character of Chip was performed by one of four delightful children within the optical illusion of the teacup on the table and the ensemble of fabulous characters stole the show on more than one occasion with their multi-talented prowess.

Beauty and the Beast is a masterpiece that delights all of the senses. Sound effects bring to life the twists and turns of the timeless tale while the costumes boast bright purple wigs, tule and garters and intricate stitching, laser cut finishes and embellishments of the original story. A huge cast and crew of professional Aussies work with as many as 300 elaborate costumes and nearly 100 tonnes of equipment, scenery and state of the art technology. I told you it was wow! You need to see it for yourself to grasp the extent of this spectacle.

The red rose as a symbol of the spell cast on the household and the time left for it to be broken only by true love, is a constant image throughout the show and audience members oohed and ahhhed at the romantic automated sets and whimsical designs projected onto the stage. Romance resonated throughout Brisbane last night with the orchestration of ‘Be Our Guest’ a monumental feast of tap-dancing, tea-pouring, plate crashing and champaign popping.

And the audience drank up every last, fizzy drop.

Beauty and the Beast tells the age-old story of love growing in all shapes and sizes and conquering all. And Brisbane’s celebration was effervescent to the final curtain. Pop on your best frock and see it for yourself, if you can still get a ticket!

‘Beauty and the Beast runs until the end of March at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre. For more information visit their website.

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  1. Good morning Carla,
    You took the words (most elegantly) right out of my mouth!
    I was a fortunate patron at the final dress rehearsal Thurday 15th Feb. You write an enthusiastic version of the performance, of which I freely participated. My teenage granddaughter sat alongside me and was similarly enthralled.
    Thank you for a most genuine review for an outstanding QPAC Lyric production., Beauty and The Beast.
    I will return for more delightful escapism!

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