Presented at Ipswich Civic Centre by an ensemble of budding junior performers from Ipswich Musical Theatre Company, Beauty and the Beast Jr is a wonderful display of the musical theatre stars of the future. With a cast of bright-eyed young performers, playful choreography and fun costumes, Beauty and the Beast Jr is absolutely adorable.
The sets supplied by Ipswich Musical Theatre Company and Queensland Musical Theatre create the perfect backdrop for this fun production. The props are fabulously creative. Maurice’s invention created by Chris Weston is particularly stunning and adds a whole new layer of magic to the show.
The costumes designed by Trisha Boike and Chloe Boike and created by Yolande Francke, Danielle Gleeson, Christel Lindsay, Susie Probert and Mary Slattery are everything they should be and more. Every character is fitted in their full glory complete with clock and candelabra outfits for Cogsworth and Lumiere, Gaston’s classic red and black ensemble, a delightfully grotesque mask for the Beast and hand-crafted costume pieces for the plates. Belle’s beautiful gold ballgown is the perfect replica evocative of the classic animated Disney film we all know and love.
From start to finish, the choreography by Trisha Boike, Chloe Boike and Carlie Murray is joyful and creative. The kids genuinely seem to enjoy telling this magical story through movement from large ensemble dance scenes such as ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Gaston’ to smaller, playful moments such as the Enchantress’s magical spells. Abbie Probert is one particularly talented young dancer, who is featured prominently at the front of the stage. Abbie is a beautiful performer who immediately captures the hearts of the audience with her dashing smile and effortless dancing.
The musical direction by Chloe Boike and Stacey Drury draws spectacular vocals out of this young cast. The children manage to sing some pretty tricky songs with considerable skill for a cast so young. Some of the standout vocal performances of this show include the talented Olivia Weston as Belle, Emma Lindsay as Gaston, Evie Gannon as Mrs Potts and Hamish McAndrew as Lefou. Overall, the ensemble singing is wonderful. ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Gaston’ are both triumphant achievements for a cast so young.
As Director, Trisha Boike creates a fun, playful show that brings out the strengths of these junior actors. The ensemble is one of the biggest credits to this show as they create and build a world that feels magical. The casting for Beauty and the Beast Jr allows for strong performers to play the characters regardless of gender and this is a credit to the production.
Elizabeth Hargreaves portrays a marvelously stubborn Beast with strong vocals and a stage presence that leaves an impression. As Belle, Olivia Weston is the very picture of a Disney princess. Olivia’s strong, belting voice resonates throughout her performance.
Emma Lindsay is a spectacularly talented young performer who portrays the iconic role of Gaston with a level of authenticity beyond her years. Emma’s Gaston is complemented by the performance of the gifted and absolutely hilarious, Hamish McAndrew as Lefou. Hamish is an excellent actor with great comedic timing and a skilled young vocalist. Together, Emma Lindsay and Hamish McAndrew are the absolute standout young artists of this show. Shivawn Macdonald-Mall, Alyssa Moorhouse and Sophie Mullens as the Silly Girls make for great entertainment.
Lumiere, portrayed by Sophie Probert and Cogsworth, portrayed by Oliver Probert, are both excellent young performers who handle the complex bantering dialogue of this duo with skill. Evie Gannon as Mrs Potts is the perfect casting choice as she paints a believable picture of the motherly teapot. Jesse Frommelt’s rendition of Chip is sweet and delightfully heartwarming.
Jemima Smith plays a sassy and flirtatious Babette with ease and Maisy Clarke is a great little opera diva as Madame de le Grande Bouche. Noah Ingham’s Monsieour D’Arque is a fantastic portrayal of an evil, schemer. Mariana Thomas is a wonderful Maurice who really captures the essence of the awkward genius.
This whole production is supported by an extremely talented young ensemble including Holly Avenell, Lacey Edwards, Meia Golles, Arienne Murray, Marlee Robertson and Miriam Walker. As well as a set of well-spoken little narrators consisting of Cedar Ingham, Sophie Mullens, Ellora Stephen and Lyla Stephen.
Overall, Beauty and the Beast Jr is a wonderfully playful and fun celebration of the amazing talent of the future. These budding young performers capture the hearts of the audience with their charming portrayals of timeless characters. Ipswich Musical Theatre Company’s junior production evokes a magical sense of childlike joy. Bravo!