Once upon a time……
There was a prince who lived in a castle. He was arrogant and heartless, so much so that he turned away a poor old woman who called at his castle needing shelter. However, the old woman was secretly an Enchantress who sought her revenge on the Prince by turning him into a hideous beast and all of his staff into household objects. She gave the Beast a bewitched rose – before the last petal falls he has to fall in love (and be loved in return) for the spell to be broken and to be returned to a prince.
Belle, a beautiful and intelligent young woman, lives in a small village far below the Prince’s castle. She feels trapped by the provincial life and yearns to escape and expand her horizons. She has an admirer in the village called Gaston - a vain and brutish man - who is determined to make Belle his wife. He has a string of female devotees (The Silly Girls) who don’t understand why Gaston wants to be with Belle and a dim sidekick called Lefou.
Belle’s father, Maurice, is an inventor and on his way to a fair, he gets lost and wanders accidentally into the castle grounds. Belle goes searching for her father and finds him in prison in the castle. She pleads with the Beast to release him and implores him to take her instead. This he does much to the dismay of Maurice.
Maurice races back to the village and into the tavern to tell the village about Belle’s captivity, when he is ridiculed with his stories of a ‘Beast’ - Gaston, however listens to Maurice and to win his favour (and thus the hand of Belle) hatches a plan to release Belle.
Belle hates the Beast for cruelly imprisoning her, but is comforted by the enchanted servants (Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs Potts & Chip, Babette and Mme de la Grande Bouche). Slowly over time she brings out a softer, kinder side to him.
Does Belle pick Gaston who tries to release her, or the Beast who has held her captive, but with whom she is gradually falling in love and can this be done before the last petal falls?
Beauty and the Beast is a fantastic family show. The songs are lively and uplifting and the characters are fun. The upbeat Be Our Guest is a sight to behold, as is the rousing Gaston. With more sentimental moments provided in the iconic Beauty And The Beast theme song, this ‘tale as old as time’ is set to provide everything needed for a truly enchanting performance.
Pictures courtesy of Graham Hobbs