In a world where fairy tales are, quite rightly, being made more relevant for the modern world – this vibrant, energetic, funny and enchanting story not only brings us several strong female protagonists but also focuses on the love of a family and how greed and wealth do not win out. Spoiler alert – this is not a romantic love story.
“Look, she is wearing trainers”. This is the first thing my eight-year-old daughter said when we arrived at Rose Theatre in Kingston to watch Ciaran McConville’s new adaptation of Beauty and The Beast. At this moment, looking at the programme, we both realised that maybe this retelling of the famous fairy tale would surprise us. It did not disappoint. Surprise and delight bring this story as old as time to the modern world!
The original story, first published by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villneuve in 1740, was rewritten in 1756 by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. A more accessible version – it is this one that inspired the adaptations of the tale of ‘love always wins’ that we know and love today.
Opening on Christmas Eve, the story starts with three siblings sleeping in an attic. They have a natural sibling relationship, with sarcasm, kindness and teenage rivalry, which shines through. As the youngest child, Rue can’t sleep – the oldest starts to tell a story of Bella and her encounter with a terrible beast.
The fact that this story and the retelling of this magical world springs from the young siblings’ imagination – not only make this a new way to retell the story, but it also sets a mark for its young, family audience of the importance and wonder of your imagination and the magic that can be had from losing yourself within the stories that you, yourself can create.
As they build the character of our main protagonist Bella, we start to move into a world of dark secrets, magical roses, nature, books, isolation from peers and coming of age.
On her 18th birthday, Bella, who has been hidden away from her peers by her father for several years – can finally explore her independence. And with worry for her father’s mysterious illness and his heath. She begins on a journey of exploration, adventure, and ultimately the truth.
It would be remiss not to mention the beautiful set design by Frankie Bradshaw – which instantly transports you into a magical world and wholeheartedly carries you forward.
This production brings together professional actors with the Rose Theatre’s Youth Company – which highlights the skill, talent and energy of the young and rising stars. Combining comedic timing, intense emotions and strong, catchy and earworm inducing musical numbers, this is a festive treat for all the family.
Delayed by a year due to our now infamous global pandemic, this is a cast and production team that are excited to share their show with you finally. And whilst we have had to wait, it is worth it.
If you aren’t looking for a bawdy pantomime and have run the gauntlet of all the Christmas classics. We would highly recommend this production: fun, heart-warming, toe-tapping and something the entire family can enjoy.
Beauty and the Beast will be at the Rose Theatre in Kingston until January 3rd. Follow the link below to book tickets to see this amazing piece of theatre! https://www.rosetheatre.org/whats-on/beauty-and-the-beast
Written by Deenie Lee – Features Journalist at Student Pages Magazine