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You’ve seen the film, you might well have enjoyed the pantomime, now you really must see the musical at the Bristol Hippodrome… It is AMAZING!!!

The huge queue outside Bristol’s grandest theatre somewhat gave away the appeal of this brand new production of the Disney classic. Fortunately, as ever, the staff at the Hippodrome were excellent and made sure everyone was in our seats before the curtain rose.

And what a treat we enjoyed! This was old-school musical family fun with a real modern feel, full of wonderful performances, fantastic music and dance, and so much fun too.

Now of course you know the story, after all, this production is very closely based on the 1991 Disney film classic, with the stage adaptation premiering way back in 1994 on Broadway. With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, this was always a certain bet for success, and after this performance, you can see why.

Right from the curtain up, the performance achieves the perfect start with the voice of the Disney grande dame Angela Lansbury narrating the prologue. Then we’re straight into the colours, lights and pure theatre of a classic production.

Emmanuel Kojo as Beast and Courtney Stapleton as Belle (Photo Johan Persson © Disney)

The story centres around Belle, the village girl with bright ideas and yearning for learning, and played here by Courtney Stapleton with such bright-eyed enthusiasm and gorgeous skill that she simply lights up the stage. And then for every hero there was be a villain, and here it’s Tom Senior as Gaston, all perfect hair, handsome face and massive biceps, as much in love with himself as the village is with him, with the exception of Belle who seeks more than posing and massive muscles. Senior appears to really adore his role, revelling in the vain self-love of his character as he poses and preens across the stage.

However, it’s when we meet the beast – played with such energy and repressed passion by the wonderful Emmanuel Kojo – and his retinue of servants bewitched into household objects that the fun really starts – and what fun it is. Gavin Lee as Lumiere the singing candelabra is the scene-stiller general, every inch the French romantic cliché and a wonderful double act with Nigel Richards as the fussy Cogsworth, the original talking clock. Along with Sally Bailey as Mrs Potts, Samantha Bingley as Wardrobe and Emma Caffrey as Babette, they deliver a group performance of such fun and energy, they almost enchant the audience too.

And yet despite the top level individual performances, this is altogether an ensemble piece. The dance sequences are incredible, no more so that around Be My Guest, which deserved a standing ovation on its own and had to make do with a well deserved extended applause. Mix in wonderful costumes, stunning sets and even a touch of Busby Berkeley old-school 1930s musical magic, and Beauty and the Beast merits every plaudit available and many more.

As you can tell, yes, I loved this production, as did my ten year old son and, by the look of it, the entire audience too. If you have the opportunity, grab a ticket as soon as you can – you will love it!

Beauty and the Beast runs at the Bristol Hippodrome until 18 September