Beauty and the Beast
The Sainsbury Singers presented Beauty and the Beast on 26-29 May 2010 at The Hexagon Theatre, Reading.
This Broadway hit, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book by Linda Woolverton, is based on the 1991 Disney hit film of the same name. It tells the classic tale of the prince that is transformed into a beast when he demonstrates he has no love in his heart.
If he can find love again before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose then he can avoid being doomed to remain a beast for all time. He falls into despair in his castle – for who could ever learn to love a beast?
Principals (in order of appearance)
- Prologue Narrator Michael Schult
- Enchantress Hannah Wyard
- Young Prince Michael Stebbings
- Beast Dan Groves
- Belle Abi Kirkwood
- Lefou Paul Stoneley
- Gaston Chris Reeves
- Silly Girl 1 Kim Antell
- Silly Giirl 2 Beth Newton
- Silly Girl 3 Lesley Vought
- Maurice Peter Cox
- Cogsworth Brian Bretney
- Lumiere Chris Faulkner
- Babette Cath Hannan
- Mrs Potts Emma Reeves
- Chip George Hale (Wed, Fri, Sat evening) and Jack Arnold (Thur and Sat matinee)
- Madame De La Grande Bouche Tricia Goodchild
- Monsieur D'Arque Chris Thomas
The Ensemble – Villagers, Wolves, Plates, Spoons, Knives, Forks, Corkscrew, Salt and Pepper Pots, Egg Timer, Napkins and Statue
Kim Antell, Tracey Attridge, Godfrey Chigona, Helen Cleeve, Terri Chopping, Stephen Cox, Lorraine Dobby, Helen Eggleton, Tom Fitzsimons, Chris Goodchild, Tricia Goodchild, Lyn Harrison, Lucy Hutson, Killian Hynes, Jenny Jackson, Hils Latimer, Beth Newton, Emma Prince, Louise Quelch, David Schult, Denise Schult, Michael Schult, Michael Stebbings, Sarah Sweeney, Chris Thomas, Jessamy Vincent, Lesley Vought, Christina Wayman, Nigel Wilson, Hannah Wyard
- Leader Guy Haskell
- Violin Alex Postlethwaite
- Cello Sarah Wortley
- Bass Jonathan Williams
- Flute / Piccolo Clare Mellor
- Oboe / Cor Anglais Nicola Fairbairn
- Clarinet / Bass Clarinet Ian Killoran
- Trumpets Dominic Field and Jemma Evans
- French Horn Tim Pocock and Clive Steady
- Trombone Nick Kershaw
- Keyboards David Perkins, Anton Gwilt and Jevan Johnson Booth
- Harp Jenny Broome
- Persussion Christian McNally and Colin Gray
Behind The Scenes
- Producer Wendy Carne
- Musical Director Trevor Defferd
- Assistant to the Producer Viv Cox
- Choreographer Kim Antell
- Assistant Choreographer Denise Schult
- Production Co-ordinator Stephen Cox
- Stage Manager John Simmonds
- Deputy Stage Manager Rebecca Wyard
- Assistant Stage Manager Ian Robertson
- Stage Crew Julie Cox, Joe Daniels, Joseph Daniels, John Radley, James Humby, Nick Humby and Keith Webb
- Lighting Designer Kim Hollamby
- Follow spot operators Peter Harley and Heather Hollamby
- Sound Assistant Sally Ollerenshaw
- Prompt Anne Lowder
- Wardrobe Mistresses Amanda Bretney and Valda Hull
- Wardrobe assisted by Rachel Masters
- Head of Makeup Louise Marshall
- Makeup assisted by Catherine Hannan, Kate Hannan and Kerry Woodley
- Costumes Costume Workshop of Sandown and The Society
- Scenery and furniture Scenery Hire Ltd of Newport
- Sound Equipment Skan PA Hire
- Programme Design Nigel Wilson – assisted by the Publicity Team
- Publicity Team Helen Cleeve, Chris Howard, Ruth Howard, Emma Prince, Denise Schult and Jessamy Vincent
- Displays Denise Schult
- Webmasters Nigel Antell and Brian Bretney
- PrintingPrint Wise
- PhotographyRay Wilmott
- Front of House Manager John Jones
The Hexagon staff; The Sainsbury Singers front of house team; Theale Green Community School; Kidz Alive!
|Beauty and the Beast (314)|
Beauty and the Beast at The Hexagon
By Calvin Kier, June 03, 2010
I am not ashamed to admit that Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Walt Disney animation.
With high expectations, I was seriously routing for the Sainsbury Singers stage adaptation, to be a thumbs up at The Hexagon last Wednesday night.
I was surprised to see that the audience contained very few children, with the majority mainly aged 20 upwards.
The opening of the story was much welcomed. Similarly to the Disney animation the story began with the brief narration of how and why the Beast earned his monstrous appearance. This was beautifully illustrated with still images viewed behind a transparent curtain. A curtain, that in fact, was a clever means of subtly dividing this artistic introduction from the story plot.
Early on we are introduced to the talents of young Abi Kirkwood, playing our leading lady 'Belle'. Her sweet tone combined with her vibrant stage presence convincingly lured us into the world of an innocent young woman, who dreams of 'more than this provincial life'.
I was impressed by the director's choice of a still montage during the town scene early on. It effectively portrayed a busy environment yet, toned down with silence, it did not prove distracting to the audience, who were focused on Belle. As a whole, it created a beautiful vision that magnetised our attention to the stage.
In every fairytale like story, there's always a fool. In Beauty and the Beast, it comes in the form of 'Lefou'. Paul Stoneley's portrayal of Gaston's eccentric red haired side kick was very well received.
Laughter infected the audience in the second half of the story, when Lefou passes out on stage after receiving a fright and is dragged off stage like a sack of potatoes.
I commend the director's creative approach towards the scene setting, immediately after the interval. After falling out with the Beast, Belle flees from the castle only to find herself in danger, when she comes into contact with a pack of vicious wolves.
This fearful atmosphere spread throughout the auditorium and was nourished, through the use of music, lighting and smoky effects. This scene also highlights a poignant stage in the story plot, where we see the beginnings of the Beast’s compassionate side, as he comes to Belle's rescue and whilst doing so, becomes injured himself.
Just like the Disney classic, it was great to see the wonderfully endearing character 'chip'. Despite his role only being minor, his sweet innocence immediately had the audience on his side.
What really entices me about Beauty and the Beast are the life's lessons that it promotes throughout. We meet a passionate young woman who is caring and generous and longs for a life beyond materialism. Sounds like a perfect role model….if only this were not a story. Then there's Gaston, who plummets to this death after attempting to kill the Beast – clearly wickedness does not pay.
It is a rich story, not only in talent but the hidden meanings too for anyone who wishes to take heed.
In conclusion, the Sainsbury Singers certainly do get the thumbs up from me. This was a thoroughly enjoyable performance. I was sniggered at about going to see this 'amateur' production, but I have no regrets.
Show sets the standard
BEAUTY and the Beast is not only a particularly well known story but is also a much loved animated film and for a local musical drama group to attempt to bring the tale to a theatre audience as a live production is extremely ambitious but yet again The Sainsbury Singers do not disappoint. Their latest show at The Hexagon in Reading, the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, was a superb, lavish and magical experience.
From the outset the enthusiasm of the large cast, which included several children, was infectious, whether appearing as villagers, wolves, statues or animated kitchen equipment, such as knives, forks, spoons, salt and pepper pots, corkscrew, egg timer and napkins, they all played their roles with gusto. Their lively performance of the song Be Our Guest was particularly enjoyable and judging from the tremendous applause from my fellow audience members I was not alone in this opinion.
In her first leading role with the society, Abi Kirkwood was excellent as Belle, the Beauty of the story. Disney heroines are always saccharine-sweet and naïve but Abi managed to give Belle added depth and strength of character; her clear diction and singing were a joy. Her duet with Maurice, her eccentric inventor father, delightfully played by Peter Cox, was particularly enjoyable as their voices blended together so well.
The Beast was a difficult character to play as for most of the story he was mainly required to shout or roar leaving little scope to attract compassion from the audience, however Dan Groves’ portrayal imbued the Beast with great vulnerability. His excellent singing and interpretation of the song If I Can’t Love Her was superb and an emotional finale to Act One.
Bearing a remarkable visual likeness to the Disney drawing in the animated film, Chris Reeves grasped the role of narcissistic Gaston, the good-looking village bad boy and would-be husband of Belle. His strong, powerful singing, his posing and strutting across the stage belied Gaston’s stupidity and created a very endearing character. Paul Stoneley as Lefou, Gaston’s toadying minion gave a hugely enjoyable and very athletic performance, managing to continue singing whilst being continuously dropped and knocked over by his thoughtless idol. Their duet, Gaston, was lively, fun and perfectly harmonised.
Within the Beast’s Enchanted Castle in the woods, castle staff had been turned into amusingly animated items of household equipment by the Enchantress, played with great grace and elegance by Hannah Wyard. The Head of the Household and the Maitre D’ had been changed into a large clock, and candelabra, Cogsworth and Lumiere, and were brought to life with great humour by Brian Bretney and Chris Faulkner.
The cook and her son had become a teapot and cup, Mrs Potts and Chip. Chip, captivatingly played on alternate performances by George Hale and Jack Arnold, had the unenviable task of spending the whole show encased in a giant teacup propelled across the stage on a tea trolley; Emma Reeves, one arm encased in a teapot spout, was the gentle, caring Mrs Potts who really kept everything running smoothly within the castle.
Babette, the housemaid and Madame de la Grande Bouche, the lady’s maid, were transformed into a feather duster and a chest of drawers both challenging roles to undertake but played with verve and credibility by Cath Hannan and Tricia Goodchild. The cameo roles of the Young Prince and the Asylum Owner Monsieur D’Arques were played convincingly by Michael Stebbings and Chris Thomas, who brought great menace to the part.
Costumes for this production were outstanding, worthy of a West End production, as was the scenery. In this impressive production, director Wendy Carne had the services of not only an excellent troupe of onstage performers but was fortunate to have been able to call upon so many talented backstage crew members and technicians within the society.
Under the musical direction of Trevor Defferd, the first-class band of 18 musicians played faultlessly, punctuating each twist and turn in the story and creating the enchanting atmosphere that enabled the cast to tell this magical tale.
Together the cast, crew and musicians have set the standards even higher for future productions.
National Operatic and Dramatic Association
Society Sainsbury Singers
Production “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST”
Date Saturday 29th May 2010
Venue Hexagon Theatre, Reading
Report by Henry Hawes – NODA Representative- Area 13
On Thursday 27th May I attended the performance of 'Beauty and the Beast' together with the NODA Councillor, Jacquie Stedman and her husband and we thoroughly enjoyed the performance. I was also fortunate in that I attended the Saturday performance in my capacity as your NODA Rep' and I sat through the performance totally entranced with what the Sainsbury Singers presented on stage, this also gave me the opportunity to review both sets of children.
"Beauty and the Beast" is a wonderful fantasy which has stood the test of time over many years. In the past it has been performed as a play and recently it was made into an animated film and then the Disney Empire turned it into a full stage musical, and what a musical. This was the first time I had seen this particular adaptation and I must admit I was most impressed, it contained all the elements of true theatre, magnificent sets, outstanding and outrageous costumes, a host of wonderful characters, together with a good story and tuneful music. When I first heard that the Sainsbury Singers were going to present this show in the Hexagon I thought, is this out of their normal 'comfort zone' and would they be able to 'pull it off?' - WELL, PULL IT OFF THEY DID - this was probably one of the best shows they have presented in some while and was as near a professional performance as you are likely to see on an amateur stage, no that is not right, it was a professional performance.
Michael Schult - (PROLOGUE NARRATOR) - This prologue was well delivered by MichaeJ. It was clear and concise so that every word could be heard and which set the scene for the delights which followed.
Hannah Wyard - (ENCHANTRESS) and Michael Stebbings - (YOUNG PRINCE) - These two minor, non-speaking roles were well filled by these two, appearing in the opening tableaux and the finale ensuring these two characters were well presented.
Dan Groves - (BEAST) - This is a difficult role to take on but Dan did it full justice. As the 'Beast' you lose the chance of using facial expressions and have to rely on body language and your vocal ability to portray the various emotions and this you did extremelly well. The anger displayed on the position you find yourself in to your eventual love for 'Belle' was of a very high order. Your singing voice was excellent and in particular the number in the first act finale 'If I Can't Love Her' brought out all the emotion of a tormented soul - A great performance.
Abi Kirkwood - (BELLE) - This young lady exhibited an acting ability far in excess of her 24 years. Her initial abhorrence towards the 'Beast' to her eventual love for him was all beautifully portrayed. This young lady has enormous talent, not only in her acting ability but in her vocal quality, Abi presented a singing voice of exceptional clarity together with control and power. Her singing in her various numbers was a joy to listen too and in particular her number with her father 'No Matter What' - Congratulations on a terrific presentation.
Paul Stoneley - (LEFOU) - As the side-kick of 'Gaston', Paul was subjected to numerous assaults by him, all of which was timed to perfection, looking most realistic. Paul's facial expressions were hilarious. This was comedy at its finest.
Chris Reeves - (GASTON) - Chris made the most of this part presenting a character who was full of his own importance and who was not particularly well liked and eventually comes unstuck. His bragging could not have been bettered and his rapport with 'Lefou' was a joy to watch. Chris was another member of the cast who presented an excellent singing voice of power and control - A great characterisation.
Kim Antell - (SILLY GIRL 1)
Beth Newton - (SILLY GIRL 2)
Lesley Vought - (SILLY GIRL 3) - These three portrayed their 'Silly Girl' characters spot-on and maintained them throughout the performance. They flitted about the stage area as if joined together. Here we had good diction and projection so that every word could be heard. Not easy characters to present and sustain I would imagine - So well done to all three of you
Peter Cox - (MAURICE) - As the inventor father of 'Belle', Peter was excellent. This seasoned performer gave this character a life of his own displaying all the eccentricity called for in the part. His feelings towards his daughter 'Belle' was beautifully portrayed and vocally, his duet with 'Belle', 'No Matter What' could not have been bettered - A great performance.
Brian Bretney - (COGSWORTH) - A walking, talking, singing clock, where else would you see such a character outside of a Disney musical! Brian's costume of a clock with moving pendulum was incredible and I would imagine it could be restricting in your movement etc; but Brian developed an excellent character - no easy task - Well done.
Chris Faulkner - (LUMIERE) - This was another Disney-ish character attired in an outstanding costume and make-up with two working flame effect torches, held in each hand in a candelabra mode. Chris certainly entered into the spirit of this character which must have been tiring holding the position required. Here we had a good voice characterisation with diction and projection - Another excellent character
Cath Hannan - (BABETTE) - What a lovely, flirtatious 'French Maid' Cath made. Her movements were exactly right for the role with a well maintained French accent throughout the performance all aided by a first class costume.
Emma Reeves - (Mrs POTTS) - To move around the stage dressed as a teapot with one arm permanently extended as a teapot spout and at the same time wheel a trolley with one hand must have been difficult in the extreme but you made it look easy. This was a lovely characterisation, dispensing tea to all and sundry. A well sung 'Beauty and the Beast' - Well-done.
George Hale - (CHIP) - (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening)
Jack Arnold - (CHIP) - (Thursday and Saturday Matinee) - I was fortunate in attending two performances so I had the opportunity to see both George and Jack playing the part of 'Chip', the teacup on the trolley of 'Mrs Potts'. This was not an easy part to play being encased in a tea trolley with just your face showing but both boys played very well with good facial expressions and voice projection - Well done.
Tricia Goodchild - (MADAME DE LA GRANDE BOUCHE) - This was a great portrayal by Tricia of a wardrobe complete with practical doors, even to the extent of containing a full ladies evening dress. Her voice characterisation as 'Madame de la Grand Bouche' was hilarous, truly operatic - Well done.
Chris Thomas - (MONSIEUR D'ARQUE) - As the villain of the piece Chris emanated an air of menace whenever he appeared resulting in boo's from the audience when taking his curtain call, which showed that he certainly got the character right. The black costume and large black hat together with his body language emphasised his evilness.
The Ensemble of Villagers I Wolves I Plates I Spoons I Knives I Forks I Corkscrew ISalt & Pepper Pots I Egg Timer I Napkins I Statue - This chorus was outstanding, not only did they wear outlandish costumes as listed above and which I imagine was no easy task, but they also presented a wealth of precise choreographic movement. At the same time, the singing was a joy to listen too, it had power and balance and was some of the best singing I have heard from this group in a while, in fact the 'Sainsbury Sound' has re-awakened.
Village Children Lauren Bartlett, Aimee Doyle, Emma Doyle, Olivia Marshall (Tuesday and Saturday Matinee)
Laura Schult, Amelie Wilson, Freya Wilson, Samuel Wood (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening)
As with 'Chip' I saw both groups of children on the two nights I attended. I was impressed by the way each and everyone entered into the spirit of the musical presenting their own individual characterisations - Well done to all of you.
Wendy Carne - (DIRECTOR) - All I can say Wendy, is many congratulations on an exceptional production. The show was a magical experience which I will remember for some time to come. It held me entranced from Curtain Up to the Finale
Trevor Defferd - (MUSICAL DIRECTOR) - Musically this show was well served by Trevor. It was obvious that both chorus and principals had been well rehearsed in the music with impressive singing from both principals and chorus and which filled the Hexagon Theatre with a glorious sound which I have not heard from the Sainsbury Singers for a little while. The show was also well served by an excellent orchestra with a good balance of instruments and who played sympathetically to the cast ensuring a good balance between musicians and performers. This was the equivalent of a professional orchestra.
Kim Antell - (CHOREOGRAPHER) assisted by Denise Schult - Kim had devised some excellent choreographic routines and in particular the routine when the whole cast filled the Hexagon stage with plates, spoons, forks etc; this was an exceptional routine which was danced precisely within the confines of the stage. Obviously a lot of hard work had been put into rehearsals, and it showed in the precise dancing by the cast - Congratulations
Stage Manager and Crew - Stage manager and crew, 'take a bow', you deserve it. Your manipulation of this set of complex scenery was well worked. Scene changes were swift and silent eliminating those 'pregnant pauses' which so often happens with sets of this nature - Congratulations.
Lighting design and Operation - I was impressed with the lighting design which ensured the right atmosphere was generated in all 13 scenes. The operation could not be faulted and on both nights I attended I did not see a late cue - Well done.
Follow Spots - These were precisely controlled and focused.
Sound - At long last I can report that the sound on this occasion was well controlled and balanced with little distortion of voices, and cues well picked up. It is always a problem with this type of amplification, due to the cost, it is impossible to mike all members on stage which leads to an imbalance of voices in the concerted numbers but this is something which has to be taken on board in this day and age.
Scenery and Furniture - A superb set of scenery which ensured all 13 scenes were well catered for. With the use of flown, trucked and tobleroned scenery it ensured that scene changes were swift and silent. The opening gauze sequence was particularly effective and helped set the scene for the rest of the superb evening's entertainment.
Costumes - These costumes were incredible, they were descriptive, colourful and had been made by a costumier who knew his/her business. They were well fitting, clean and had a dramatic impact on the audience.
Props - All the props looked good on stage, they appeared authentic and I was impressed with the magic, illuminating hand mirror - very effective.
Make-up and Wigs - Make-up had been well applied and the various characters had been well brought out and all looked authentic under the stage lights. Wigs also looked good they appeared to have been dressed correctly and were of a good fit.
Programme - A neat programme of a size which fits neatly into my pocket. It had been well laid out and contained all the necessary information printed on high quality paper. Cast photographs were clear with interesting biographies.
Front of House - Sainsbury Singers still retain the high standard one has come to expect from the Front of House staff - keep up the good work.
Thank you for inviting me to review your latest production, it was a magical experience and I have nothing but praise for all involved in this show. It was great to see the audience give a standing ovation at the end and which was well deserved. You will certainly be hard put to top this show. May I wish you all success with your future productions.
Henry Hawes - NODA Representative.- London Region - Area 13