Review: Beauty and the Beast The Musical at Edinburgh Playhouse *****

What’s your favourite Disney film? We’ve all got one and mine happens to be Beauty and the Beast so the stakes were high when reviewing Disney’s latest production this week at the Edinburgh Playhouse. Afterall, how do you capture the movie magic of your beloved childhood film in a stage production? 

Well, whatever your age, or your preferred Disney film, it would be impossible not to fall in love with this spellbinding musical. Members of the original creative team reunited on this new production which features all the music and lyrics of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice’s original film, as well as some additional songs which did not make the original cut. It is not a carbon copy of the 90s animation but the additional songs and dialogue give further depth to the performances, especially that of the bad-tempered Beast (played by the wonderful Alyn Hawke, standing in for Emmanuel Kojo).

Alyn’s depiction of the Beast isn’t as scary as the one from the film, making it a relatively kid-friendly show for little fans. Courtney Stapleton also shines bright in the lead role of Belle, supported by Martin Ball as her eccentric father, Maurice. But it’s the supporting cast that really steals the show. World-class performers Gavin Lee as Lumiere, Nigel Richards as Cogsworth, Sam Bailey as Mrs Potts and Tom Senior as the wicked Gaston are simply a joy to watch throughout.

As you would expect, Disney doesn’t do anything in half measures and it’s the big numbers that really make Beauty and the Beast a world-class production. The choreography and vocals of Gaston and Be Our Guest ooze old school Hollywood and are simply spectacular. 

Whether it’s the village pub or the Beast’s enchanted castle, the set design is also phenomenal with every inch meticulously designed. Anne Hould-Ward’s costume design is also exquisite and brings to life those iconic costumes from the movie.

Disney first debuted Beauty and the Beast on Broadway 26 years ago and it continues to be one of the most dazzling and lavish productions at the theatre. Simply not one to be missed.

Beauty and the Beast is on at the Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 27 November. There are also sign language interpreted, audio description, captioned and relaxed performances running

Words: Aimee Stanton

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