Beauty and the Beast

by | Feb 18, 2024

 

Review by Nic Conolly

 

Disney’s latest stage adaptation of Beauty and the Beast premiered on Saturday, February 17th, captivating audiences in Brisbane with its fresh take on the timeless tale. Shubshri Kandiah‘s portrayal of Belle was a highlight of the evening, delivering a performance marked by authenticity and charm. This is evident in the song ‘Something There.’ Her interpretation of the beloved character resonated deeply, portraying Belle as a relatable figure with dreams, vitality, and an unwavering love for those closest to her. Kandiah’s portrayal, characterised by a delicate demeanour and sharp wit, showcased her versatility and establishes her a perfect fit for the role.

 

Opposite Kandiah, Rodney Dobson brought depth and compassion to the character of Maurice, infusing the role with sincerity and warmth.

 

Meanwhile, Brendan Xavier‘s portrayal of the Beast was captivating in its intensity and complexity. As an individual on the autism spectrum, I found Xavier’s portrayal particularly poignant, capturing the character’s inner struggles and longing for connection with authenticity and nuance. Xavier’s rendition of ‘If I Can’t Love Her’ is heartbreaking but at the simultaneously captivating. His transformation from ferocity to vulnerability was masterfully executed, drawing viewers into the emotional core of the story.

 

Throughout the performance, Xavier’s expressive and dynamic presence added an extra layer of magic to the production, further immersing audiences in the enchanting world of Beauty and the Beast. Together, the talented cast breathed new life into this classic tale, delivering a production that was both captivating and deeply resonant, reminding us of the enduring power of love and acceptance.

 

 

Other notable characterisations and portrayals include Nick Cox as Gaston’s loyal, reliable but sometimes slow on the uptake, wingman; LeFou (meaning foolish in French). Cox’s interpretation adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the role. Jackson Head’s portrayal of the multifaceted antagonist, Gaston is both clear and sophisticated, almost eliciting sympathy. Rohan Browne lights up the stage (full pun intended) as Lumiere (a name that is literally light in French). His spark, zeal, and quick-witted wordplay brings the stage to life with radiant energy. Jayde Westaby’s motherly charm to not only Chip (portrayed on the night by James Mitchell) but to the Beast, expresses inherent human qualities, a sense of hope, and embodies optimism. The resplendent rendition of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Westaby delivers is worth the ticket price alone. Gareth Jacobs, Hayley Martin, and Alana Tranter excel as Cogsworth, Babette, and Madame respectively, bringing enchantment to the stage. Their captivating performances draw you in and sweep you off your feet with seamlessness and synchronisation. The impeccable timing and direct engagement with the audience leaves you cheering them on with clockwork precision.

 

 

The two standing ovations received by the company in the first half alone were very well deserved. The tantalising tap dancing and use of visualisation during ‘Be Our Guest,’ precise projection of voice, and the exuberant energy elevate stage productions to a new, enhanced level. The lighting by Natasha Katz, video and projection by Darrel Maloney, illusions by Jim Steinmeyer, costume design by Ann Hould- Ward, and Matt West’s fabulous choreography, highlighted by a succinct Fiddler on the Roof- esque beer stein section in ‘Gaston,’ performed with meticulous mastery, complements what is a truly magical performance. The two effects I loved the most were the rose petals wilting and reforming and the tooth flying from LeFou’s mouth at the start of the show.

 

 

The long anticipation and excitement for the production’s first appearance in Brisbane did not disappoint. With a star rating of 5 out of 5, Beauty and the Beast is truly one not to be missed and plays at QPAC in Brisbane until May 2024.

 

Marie! The Tickets! – https://www.qpac.com.au/whats-on/2024/beauty-and-the-beast

 

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