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Beauty and the Beast

“Pure, inspiring and music-filled”

There is something quite wonderful about stripping a Disneyfied fairytale back to its roots, something joyous about dispensing with all the corporate kitsch and gift-shop paraphernalia, and returning to the unadulterated charm of the story itself.

New International Encounter’s Christmas show does just that. This is Beauty and the Beast, but not as you know it. Basing its tale on Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s 1756 French version, NIE has crafted something pure and inspiring: 95 minutes of inventive, music-filled, meaningful storytelling.

Alex Byrne’s production, staged transversely, offers up just enough detail to ignite the audience’s imagination. With just a few wooden boards, a couple of statue plinths, some candles and a scattering of autumnal leaves, designer Stefanie Mueller conjures up stormy seas, cosy cottages, windswept woodlands and eerie, echoing castles. It’s an engrossing, enrapturing world.

And it’s the perfect stage for Byrne’s five-strong cast to spin a tale of evil sisters, penniless fathers, one honest daughter and one exceedingly hairy man. As the performers (Martin Bonger, Carly Davis, TJ Holmes, Sara Lessore and Amalia Vitale) skilfully interleave narration, Gallic-infused song and witty audience interaction, they strike a delicate tonal balance between the traditional and the everyday, the fearsome and the fun. It’s a healthy, happy mix, which keeps kids engaged and adults entertained.

At the end of it all, you get Huey Lewis’ all-important life lesson about the strange, redemptive, unconquerable power of love. (Although, hang on, isn’t the Beast actually a bit of a manipulative bastard?)


Related to this Review

Around the World in 80 Days

Production Details
Production nameBeauty and the Beast
VenueCambridge Junction
StartsDecember 6, 2016
EndsDecember 31, 2016
Running time1hr 50mins
AuthorGabrielle-Suzanne Barbot De Villeneuve, The Company
DirectorAlex Byrne
Musical directorCarly Davis
Set designerStefanie Mueller
Costume designerStefanie Mueller
Lighting designerTrui Malten
CastAmalia Vitale, Carly Davis, Martin Bonger, Sara Lessore, Tj Holmes
Production managerTom Cotterill
ProducerCambridge Junction, New International Encounter, Tobacco Factory Theatres
VerdictA pure, inspiring, music-filled and family-friendly bout of fairytale-telling
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Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

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