DIRECTED by Paul Chamberlain and with a script by Steve Hawes, this treatment of Beauty and the Beast takes its lead from more classical versions of the tale than the Oscar-nominated Disney 1991 feature.

The very beautiful – and extremely talented, judging by her dual performance here – Anne Marie Piazza is our leading lady. She’s first on stage as the simultaneously seductive and threatening Satyra, who curses a vain and handsome prince (Oliver Stoney) for refusing to marry her. She dramatically changes him into a Beast who must remain in this form until he finds a human who will love him as he appears now.

Beauty’s father (Mark Rawlings) tells a protracted story about his fruitless journey in search of wealth, spending a night in the forest when he is lost on his return. He offends the Beast by plucking the perpetual rose and is punished by having to send one of his three daughters to the Beast via the wind.

Thankfully, Beast is not sent the man-mad and avaricious Matilda (Dani McCallum) or Harriet (Jo Castleton), but instead ends up with a dungaree-clad Beauty, fresh from working with the goats. Refusing to be intimidated by his beastly form, she refuses his repeated proposals of marriage but begins to break down the barriers between them and tries to accept his nature, even when he eats a young goat.

Beauty’s dad is left alone with his mouse friend Hazel (who we don’t see), trying to pacify Beauty’s ugly-on-the-inside comfort eating sisters, who are hell-bent on expensive nuptials.

Stephen Holroyd has designed the set, which features a huge revolving tower on the right which becomes a temporary prison for Beauty or her family home, when necessary. The blank backdrop is used for video projections and images throughout including dream sequences and scenes of the titular pair in the woods.

Musical direction is by Stephen Solloway, and the music is performed by Anvil Arts’ artistic associates the Brodowski Quartet. The songs vary from one the Beast sings about his upset – bemoaning his luck and wailing “blub, blub” - to one in which the sisters rapidly list all of the food that they have eaten.

When she is singing, Anne-Marie proves she has a stunning voice to match the rest of her accomplishments!

Plaudits must go to Rebecca Gregory for the impressive Beast head and to Sonia Hoggs for her lovely costumes.

Nick Underwood does a terrific job playing three different roles including the Beast’s servant Carew and the Crow – another gorgeous costume - and I don’t know how Dani and Jo manage to rush around playing the deer, too. Come the end of the performances, they must be exhausted!

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