Beast show a lit­tle beauty

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - RICHARD MAYS

Dis­ney’s Beauty and the Beast is a huge show. It re­quires ex­pan­sive per­for­mances, mon­u­men­tal mu­sic, great singing, a gi­nor­mous set, and king-sized cos­tumes.

The Pahiatua Reper­tory pro­duc­tion of the musical fairy­tale showed just what can be ac­com­plished in a lit­tle the­atre with a big vi­sion and a com­mit­ted cast and crew.

Beau­ti­ful but book­ish, in­de­pen­dent­ly­minded Belle is try­ing to es­cape the un­wel­come at­ten­tions of one beast, the self-cen­tred vain­glo­ri­ous hunter, Gas­ton, and falls into the clutches of another.

Trans­formed into a mon­strous crea­ture by en­chant­ment as pun­ish­ment for his beastly at­ti­tudes, the stoney-hearted prince must find true love or for­ever be a bad-tem­pered brute.

His house­hold re­tain­ers are like­wise trans­formed into pieces of fur­ni­ture, crock­ery and kitchen uten­sils, con-

RE­VIEW

Beauty and the Beast By Menken, Ash­man & Rice Di­rec­tor Hay­den Giles Musical di­rec­tor Shane Brown Chore­og­ra­pher Han­nah Mills Pahiatua Reper­tory Novem­ber 17 - De­cem­ber 3

demned to remain so un­less the spell can be bro­ken.

Katie Mon­aghan’s Belle had the right warm-hearted but no-non­sense de­meanour for the role, han­dling her so­los and duets with aplomb. The only prob­lem was that the soar­ing back­ing track some­times drowned out the words, and this af­fected per­for­mances across the pro­duc­tion.

As the Beast, Steve Jenk­ins sang well but could af­ford to have a big­ger pres­ence, and milk the fear­some­ness of his cos­tume more.

Nick Ross as Gas­ton, ably as­sisted by Jason Ngarimu as his wimpy slap­stick sidekick Le­fou, hit all the right boast­ful but­tons and was the ideal cen­tre­piece for the lighter-hearted en­sem­ble numbers.

An ad­mirably an­i­mated Grant Miller shone in­side the Weta Work­shop can­dle suit as the as the lady-killing lothario, Lu­miere. Miller’s il­lu­mi­nat­ing per­for­mance was abet­ted by Sarah Don­nelly’s Mrs Potts, Danielle Mac­don­ald as feather-duster Babette, Bruce Sin­clair as the crusty Cogsworth, and the de­light­fully ex­pres­sive face of Ryan Ngarimu as Chip, the teacup.

The Weta-de­signed cos­tumes are still im­pres­sive pieces of wear­able art.

Di­rec­tor Hay­den Giles, who also made an ef­fec­tive cameo as asy­lum keeper M D’Arque, kept it clip­ping along, the quick scene changes courtesy of over­head screen pro­jec­tions and wheeled-on sets.

With its "be kind to oth­ers" mes­sage, this con­fi­dent and colour­ful pro­duc­tion is in tune with seasonal sen­ti­ments.

PHOTO: HAN­NAH MILLS/SUP­PLIED

Bruce Sin­clair as Cogsworth with Grant Miller’s Lu­miere in the Pahiatua Reper­tory So­ci­ety’s pro­duc­tion of "Beauty and the Beast".

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