Young Arcadians “Beauty & the Beast” 18th February 2016
St Christopher School, Letchworth
Director: David Walker MD: Chris Gardiner
Choreographers: Lucy Walker and Emily Vivian
Beauty & the Beast is a lovely show for young people to perform, and I was impressed with this production.
The stage set worked well as it was possible to use both the back and front of the performance area, as separate sets, which the performers were able to move around well, and make the most of.
Choreography was good throughout, and suited the capabilities of the cast.
Unfortunately the night I was there, the mics were very intermittent, noisy and feedback evident, particularly Belle’s, which meant sound balance was not good, and the backing tracks were much too loud, which was a shame as it detracted from the overall standard of the production.
The costumes were good, and were worn well by the cast as a whole.
I thought everyone sang really well, there were some good harmonies and Belle had a particularly lovely voice. ‘Home’ was very poignant and well-expressed.
The cast as a whole were very energetic and enthusiastic, with lively faces – which I really enjoyed.
There were a couple of places where the characters were speaking too side on – so we missed their expressions and also some of the sound – I couldn’t hear the Bookseller very well.
Sophie Kerr as Belle created a charming character, with plenty of expression and meaning in her songs and lib. A good all round performance.
Dan Barnicott was a very elegant Prince, and characterful Beast. I would have liked his roar to have been a bit deeper in his throat, as it would have added to the menace, but well played.
Louis Bailey created a fun Gaston, with lots of cheeky nuances. I would have liked him to have a bit more swagger and slyness in his portrayal, he needed to be a bit nastier to get the contrast between his character and the rest of the cast. Dan Townsend as Lefou needed more cheekiness in his character, but that said the two boys played off each other well.
I thought Fred McConnell Smith as Lumiere was excellent – a good accent and he maintained his character throughout, with some very telling expressions and reactions to what was going on around him.
Georgie Paulis-Nield was a very flighty Babette, well done. Georgie also played the Enchantress and gave her the fantasy-like feel required.
Cogsworth was nicely played by Benjamin Tossell, who managed his costume very well, although there were a couple of places where we lost his lib – maybe a mic problem. Or because he was speaking to the side too much.
Mrs Potts was played very sympathetically by Esther Townsend, and I loved Neve Murdoch as Chip, the best Chip I’ve seen to date, and a nice pairing.
The Silly Girls, Liberty Davies, Keira Harris, Hollie Jackson and Madeleine Waite were very chirpy and performed well.
Ellis Jackson projected well as Maurice, and there was a good relationship between him and Belle.
Alex Earlham delivered his lib well, but needed to be a bit more creepy as Monsieur D’Arque – again to create dimensions within the characters.
The narrators, Jack Fabris and Claudia Saunders opened the show well, but were slightly hampered by fault mics, which was corrected quickly giving them the chance to really set the scene.
The ensemble all performed really well, and helped to make this a really good production, if a little lacking in contrasts between the characters at times. That said I really enjoyed the production.
My thanks to Roger and the Society for their hospitality.
Nova Horley (for Vicki Avery )