Berwickshire High School’s stage musical Beauty and the Beast may not have starred Emma Watson, but Maddie Cawthorn’s Belle was a superb alternative.
Her lovely voice crackled with emotion, and showed both the strength and vulnerability of the character. She was not outdone by the two main male leads: Samuel Adeosun as the fearsome yet lonely Beast, who changed from raging with authority to selflessly sacrificing himself; and Robbie Paulin as erstwhile lover Gaston who threw himself into the part, flexing his biceps conceitedly and excelling in his villainy.
The three of them gave a real heart and strength to the show, with excellent singing performances, mature acting and stagecraft. The Beast’s ‘Evermore’ was particularly fine and Gaston’s ability to sing and act whilst carrying Belle round the stage in ‘Me’ admirable!
The stage version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, even without the benefit of CGI, rivalled the films in both scenery and costumes particularly those of the humans turned into objects, which were exquisite and made the show come alive.
Lumiere, the candlestick, played with panache by Oliver Wright who made the most of the opportunity to play an exuberant Frenchman with his fellow sidekick Cogsworth (Archie Beattie), the conservative and slightly cowardly clock and his flirtatious girlfriend Babette (Susanna McEwen). Together with Mrs Potts (Finlay Foster) the teapot, her son Chip (Finna Hardy) who managed to maintain a huge smile for the entire performance while being wheeled around with his head poking out of a tea trolley, and Madame de la Grande Bouche and the wardrobe (Seyi Adeosun), they made the castle scenes a delight to watch and the standard of singing was very high.
The cast’s enjoyment was obvious from the gusto with which they tackled all the songs. The only weak point was the fight scene in the castle which was a trifle confusing, with the stage being a bit overcrowded, but this is a minor criticism only made because it highlights how fantastic the rest was. One favourite part was the scene in which the castle inhabitants, led by Lumiere, put on dinner for Belle, singing ‘Be Our Guest’ rousingly whilst knives, forks, spoons and plates interweaved in a complex dance which included napkins doing a can-can.
This was a difficult show to stage, many of the songs demanded a huge range, and the acting was not straightforward. The elaborate lighting, staging, sound effects and costumes meant a huge amount of time and effort went into the show - and the result was superb.
Director Cameron Mabon, who also conducted the excellent orchestra can feel immensely proud of the cast and crew. His efforts, together with those of pupils, former pupils, parents and teachers, should be applauded. A fantastic showcase for the school.