Packemin’ Productions’ Beauty and the Beast is a colourful, didactic story that will charm first-time theatre-goers. It’s the kind of work that kick-starts the dreams of ‘that’ kid sitting in the audience who realises they want to be up on stage.
We all know the story. The ‘tale as old as time’ sees an intellectual and gutsy heroine sacrifice herself in place of her clumsy father in an enchanted castle run by a stern but lovable beast. It has kick-lines of cutlery, singing wardrobes, pitch-fork-bearing battle cries and a gentle, kind-hearted leading lady. There’s a lot to love.
There’s a lot to love in Packemin’s production, too. With a magical set and a burly chorus, there are glimpses of a full-blown mainstage musical of epic proportions. A stand-out performance from the versatile and nuanced Adam Sculia as Cogsworth and clever, clean choreography from Camilla Jakimowicz add to the pretty picture.
Newcomer Kelsi Boyden plays an earnest, charming Belle and Danny Folpp provides a strong, capable cardboard cut-out Gaston.
A mixed bag of Disney-esque American, ocker-meets-cockney, and ‘neutral’ Australian accents proved disorienting, as did numerous technical issues on opening night that will undoubtedly be resolved in future runs.
The theatre was packed with families and friends of the bounteous cast and the excited energy was contagious, making for an enchanting night out.
Maryann Wright is a performer and writer. She has a Diploma of Musical Theatre from Brent Street and a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) from The University of Sydney. Recent performance credits include Heart of a Dog (Australian premiere), Carrie (Squabbalogic) and Urinetown (Brent Street). Follow her on twitter: @mmaryannwright