Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, London Palladium review ✭✭✭

Last Updated on 3 July 2022 by Showcall Editorial Team

The UK and Ireland tour of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast the musical has arrived at the London Palladium. Tickets on sale now

Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Gavin Lee as Lumiere and Courtney Stapleton as Belle lead the ensemble in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Photo: Johan Persson

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
London Palladium
Three stars

After touring the UK and Ireland since September last year, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has landed with pizzazz at the London Palladium. It may be “a tale as old as time” but this production brings in the showmanship of classic film and stage musicals as well as the visual delight of video technology. It is a glorious spectacle that fits well in a space famous for variety shows but at times the spectacle threatens to overwhelm the story.

The original stage musical followed hot on the heels of Disney’s 1991 animated film, and it continues to feature Angela Lansbury – unforgettably voicing the teapot-shaped Mrs Potts – as a recorded narrator. This new production, directed by the show’s original choreographer Matt West, has pared back some of Stanley A Meyer’s design and Ann Hould-Ward’s costumes and updated Linda Woolverton’s book for the 2020s but the essence of the much-loved show remains.

At its heart is the tale of Courtney Stapleton’s charming, book-loving Belle taming and civilising Shaq Taylor’s rude and arrogant prince who has been transformed into a monstrous-looking Beast. They deliver strong performances, with touches of humour, but the joy of this production is the supporting parts, especially the prince’s household who have been transformed into furniture and homeware. Gavin Lee is tremendous as the saucy but generous candlestick, Lumiere, alongside Nigel Richards as the equally hilarious Cogsworth, the clock-cum-butler, and the rest of the team including Sam Bailey as Mrs Potts, Samantha Bingley as Madame and Emma Caffrey as Babette. The household’s biggest number, “Be My Guest”, becomes a stunning dance extravaganza, evoking different styles from high-kicking Can-Can to Busby Berkeley routines in old Hollywood musicals.

Beauty and the Beast UK tour
Courtney Stapleton as Belle and Shaq Taylor as the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Photo: Johan Persson

Gaston, the epitome of toxic masculinity who seeks to win Belle as his wife, is a splendid villain, played by Tom Senior, who leads another of West’s superb ensemble dance numbers, “Gaston”. His sidekick and admirer, Le Fou, is a tumbling buffoon in the hands of Louis Stockil, confirming the panto-like elements of this entertaining family show. Alan Menken’s score features several appealing songs, with lyrics by Tim Rice and Howard Ashman, although, from the perky opening prologue onwards, it is the livelier ensemble pieces that work best. With truly magical effects by illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer and striking video and projection by Darrel Maloney, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is filled with delights but a mixed bag of tricks.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast runs at the London Palladium to 17 September 2022 and then back on tour to Bristol Hippodrome and Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin. Tickets are on sale now



About Mark Ludmon 318 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre, hospitality and drinks after starting in regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is a former panellist for the Olivier Awards. He tweets at @MarkLudmon.