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Is it my Cup of Tea: Beauty and the Beast

If someone were to inquire about my top Disney animated movie, it would undoubtedly be "Basil the Great Mouse Detective." Following closely behind is "Beauty and the Beast," a flawless animated fairytale with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton.

Although I missed the opportunity to see it at the movies during the 90s, I watched it repeatedly once it was released on video. With age, I came to appreciate the film even more due to its exceptional storytelling. For me, it stands out as a flawless example of storytelling in animated movies.

In 1995, when the musical arrived in Australia, I missed the chance to see it because it was in Sydney, and my family couldn't afford to go due to financial constraints. Nonetheless, I had the opportunity to listen to the music on CD, featuring Hugh Jackman as Gaston, and view numerous images showcasing how Disney theatrical transformed the animated movie into a stage production and now, in 2024, I got the chance to finally see it.

For those who don't know the Disney story of Beauty and the Beast it tells the story of an unkind prince who has been magically transformed into an unsightly creature as punishment for his selfish ways. To revert into his true human form, the Beast must learn to love a bright, beautiful young lady who he has imprisoned in his enchanted castle before it is too late.

In this revised, updated and enhanced performance, the remarkable set designs and visual effects really stood out, capturing the essence of its animated version. The costume designs were stunning, although slightly more basic. Yet, there were moments that left me feeling underwhelmed. Some visual effects seemed more suited for a theme park show, except for the Beast's transformation into a Prince and Gaston's downfall, failing to enhance the narrative as a musical should by sparking imagination to make it more engaging. Despite this, the overall sense of disappointment was minor.

On the night we attended, the understudies, Grace Williams as Beauty and Luke Ward as Beast, delivered exceptional performances. Rohan Browne was captivating as Lumiere, while Jade Westaby shone in the role of Mrs. Potts. Although the entire cast was impressive, my standout performances were Gareth Jacobs as Cogsworth and Jackson Head as Gaston.

I saw Gareth Jacobs, perform the role of the Genie in Disney's Aladdin, and he brought his unique twist to the character of Cogsworth, showcasing impeccable comic timing that kept me entertained throughout the play. Just like with the Genie, he infused Cogsworth with his own interpretation, and I often couldnt wait to see him again.

Image from program

In his role as Gaston, Jackson Head portrayed the unlikable character with a fresh perspective, reminiscent to the schoolyard bullies I meet on the sports field. While a friend compared his performance to Jim Carrey, I personally noticed a different angle. Unlike his animated counterpart, I didn't find him as physically imposing, but his portrayal as a 1950s Greaser or Elvis Presley with a charismatic "everyone loves me" demeanor resonated with me, especially during his iconic song "Gaston".

All in all, despite some minor disappointment due to my own expectations, Disney's Beauty and the Beast was an enchanting musical experience but to me the animated musical will always be superior.


Beauty and the Beast is playing at the Lyric Theatre, Qpac in Brisbane until 9th June

Tickets can be purchased here before it heads to Melbourne where it can be seen at Her Majesty's Theatre from 27th June. Tickets can be purchased here

Show runs for 2 hours 30 minutes and note this production contains theatrical smoke, fog effects, gunshots, violence and strobe lighting.


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