Review: Beauty and the Beast ****

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Bradford Alhambra

The reason we don’t generally cover amateur or stage school theatre is because there is enough of a job on to cover professional theatre in the region.

However, having heard for a number of years stories about Stage 84, the Bradford-based stage school, and how it sends a disproportionate number of young people out into the world of professional acting, I was convinced I had to see the latest show.

It is clearly a hotbed of talent. The city’s Alhambra theatre was packed like I haven’t seen it for some time and the production values were seriously impressive. There were weak links in a cast that were not universally up to the task of filling the big theatre. Those that were, however, were brilliant.

It was when the action moved into the castle of the Beast that this production came alive, with Zak Derler as Lumiere and Oliver Lovatt as Cogsworth incredibly impressive, their comfort on and command of the stage completely belying their years. Lovatt in particular, seemed to channel the spirit of several of the Monty Python team.

Lauren Whiteley as Mrs Potts had the unenviable task of singing the signature tune that took the production into the interval. The girl nailed it. Her performance had enormous maturity, like most of those in the Beast’s castle who had been turned into household objects.

It’s a shame the demands of all the other theatre has to make this a one-off; on the evidence of this, I’m impressed.