Beauty & the Beast NODA Review

Company: Big Box Youth Theatre
Production: Beauty and the Beast Jr
Director: Elizabeth Fitzpatrick
Musical Director: David Hails
Choreographer: Bethan Jones
Venue: Bonnington Theatre Arnold
Date: 27th June 2015

This is my first experience of the Jr version of Beauty and the Beast and without exception the Big Box cast showed great enthusiasm at all times keeping the story moving and the audience engaged on a very hot night with no air conditioning, which was a great achievement. The vocal and acting performances were, on the whole, very good with special mention going to Belle (Bethan Jones), Lumiere (Seamus Parr), Mrs Potts (Vicki Collett) and Beast (Sam Jones). One suggestion I have on the acting front for the future is for the cast to make more sustained eye contact with each other when in dialogue. This will increase the communication of their inter- relationships to the audience and increase our engagement with the characters they are portraying.
The movement was very supportive to the story and, very effectively, was sympathetic to the group so that it was clear the cast were enjoying the movement rather than being ‘afraid’ of it.
The sound balance in the space was very well judged by David, and the use of the single keyboard in the ‘studio’ environment of the Bonnington allowed the diction and clarity of voices in the group to take centre stage which was much appreciated. At no time did the accompaniment become too ‘thin’ or overpowering.
Elizabeth obviously had a clear vision for the production and maximised the use of the performance space and lighting by using minimal set with a small number of very effective key props – the most important of these being the ‘Book’ that was used to clearly communicate the location of the scene and the passing of time.
This was my first visit to both the Bonnington and Big Box Youth Theatre and I very much appreciated the warm welcome from all concerned. I look forward to seeing you again for the Panto.

Martin Holtom