A night out at Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast

Last night, we started off our family’s indulgent 3 musicals in 2 weeks program!  We have planned to see Beauty and the Beast in Perth,  My Fair Lady in Sydney and Wicked in Melbourne.  A bit indulgent, but we love our musicals 🙂

And so we braved the cold and wet to drive to Subi last night with the kids.   They were quite excited about going to see a musical again and had even watched the Beauty and the Beast on DVD in the last few days.   It’s definitely a clever choice by Playlovers to put on Beauty and the Beast – a musical that appeals to kids and all ages, across the school holidays, recognisable tunes and a very popular movie to back it.

Playlovers is a local theatre production company who have been producing plays and musicals for 50 years.  They are an amateur group in the sense that the performers do not get paid.  However, much time, organisation and money is required to put on large productions, especially with rights, venue, costumes, stage, props and promotion and musos (yes – I believe the orchestra gets paid but the singers and actors on stage don’t – sounds wierd doesn’t it).

The leads were great!  It must be so hard to characterise an over the top, one dimensional, animated character, especially when much of the audience is familiar with the movie roles.  Standouts for me included Belle (beautiful voice) and Lefou (yes, over the top, but that’s what the movie character is like).

We had pretty good seats towards the front half of the hall.  Unfortunately I struggled through the night to hear the dialogue and singing.  A lot of the singing seemed to have too much mid range, making Belle sound like she’s singing through a telephone/radio type effect.  She sounded like she has a beautiful silky voice but it didn’t come out that way through the speakers.  About half way through the first half, it seemed to be a bit louder, but could still be improved.   Also in general, the orchestra was too loud in the mix.  Either they need to be turned down, or actually play softer when there is singing and dialogue on stage.  In the scene when Gaston is scheming in the pub, I couldn’t make out a single word 😦

It was great to see professional quality sets and costumes (although I’m sure at a large cost to the production company).   However, some of the scene changes could’ve been smoother, especially at the end after the Beast is injured fighting with Gaston – it detracted from the whole pace of the story as we waited for sets to get into place.  Talking about this with Wifey, I don’t think it’s the stage crews fault as the actual set mechanics worked fine and smoothly – I wonder if it’s partly a problem of trying to adapt a screen movie to the stage.  The stage adaptation can’t have as many scene changes as the movie as it would be impractical.  But then again, perhaps it needed a really clever solution.   One Disney stage production that I was most impressed with was the Aladdin show at the California Adventure theme park in Disneyland.  That was a truly slick production – but they’ve also had years to refine it and a much larger budget I’m sure!

Which makes me remember, although the ticket price is not small, this really is an amateur production.  It must be an extremely special opportunity to take part in a production like this – a chance that not many amateurs would have, especially if groups like Playlovers and other groups in Perth weren’t around.  I love the fact that the cast aren’t doing it for money, but because they want to (either for exposure, experience, fun or the love of it I’m guessing).  It reminds me of where I am in with my music having a full time job in the IT industry.

Well, it’s put me back in the musicals mood.  Can’t wait for My Fair Lady and Wicked next week!

Some entertaining community reviews here:  http://www.theatre.asn.au/theatre_reviews/beauty_and_the_beast_at_playlovers_regal_theatre

Playlovers info here: http://www.playlovers.org.au/beauty_beast.htm

And tickets to the show can be bought through Ticketek here, http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=BEAUTYBE08.  Be quick though, the last show is this Saturday.

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