Beauty and the Beast The Musical at Bristol Hippodrome - review and pictures

‘You would be hard pressed to see a better stage spectacle than this’

Whoosh! That must be the sound of the Hippodrome’s electric bill during the run of this high octane Disney show.

Let’s hope the theatre sorted out a lower tariff before the energy prices were increased because no expense has been spared, no corners cut. But then the most expensive seats are £90 so perhaps they planned well ahead.

After a successful summer at London’s Palladium, this touring production of the age old love story is back in Bristol after only a year.

Adapted from the early 1990s animated Disney film, and with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice to accompany Alan Menken’s music, this show has been on the road in various forms for almost 30 years and it still packs out venues every time.

An audience ranging from dressed-up toddlers to great-grandparents filled the Hippodrome on press night.

Shaq Taylor as Beast and Courtney Stapleton as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Photo by Johan Persson ©Disney)

As with any Disney-related stage show, stunning sets and beautiful costumes are a big part of the spectacle, but they are combined with mesmerising video projections and computer graphics beamed around the auditorium, almost providing a 3D surround sound effect.

The two leads give spellbinding performances from the outset, each actor giving it everything they have.

Shaq Taylor as Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Photo - Johan Persson ©Disney)

As the Beast, Shaq Taylor achieves the right balance between being likeable and slightly menacing - the toddlers sitting behind me were quite scared at times - and his passionate rendition of If I Can’t Love Her at the end of the first half was a serious goosebump moment.

Female lead Belle was played with energy and emotion by Courtney Stapleton who almost lifted the Hippodome roof with her powerful, chest-thumping reprise of Home at the end of act two.

Gavin Lee as Lumiere and Courtney Stapleton as Belle lead the company in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Photo - Johan Persson ©Disney)

Nigel Richards (as Cogsworth) and Alyn Hawke (Lumiere) provided a panto-esque edge to proceedings as the clock and candlestick. They would make brilliant ugly sisters one Christmas.

But it was the technicolour and gloriously over-the-top Be Our Guest - the musical’s best-loved song with full ensemble - that had the audience on their feet halfway through the show. It was an unforgettable scene worth the ticket price alone.

Dazzling sets, glittering costumes and first-class acting, dancing and singing, you would be hard pressed to see a better stage spectacle as this full-fat slice of musical theatre at its best.

Beauty and the Beast is at the Hippodrome until November 12. For tickets, click here.