Beauty And The Beast Capetown

Jan Leeming

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 17th February 2009


  Oh, the joys of going to the theatre in Capetown,  particularly at Artscape.   You park in the garage underneath the Theatre Complex and walk up to the auditoria - arriving looking good untouched by the elements.

  I didn't really know what to expect, not having seen Beauty and the Beast in London.  I presumed it would be a bit like 'Phantom' - the love story with the Goody and the Baddy.  In fact it was, in parts, a comedy.

  The sets, costumes and choreography were excellent, particularly a number they did with tankards clashing - it was an exercise in precision and rightly deserved the fulsome applause it received.  It was quite breathtaking.

  I now have a rule that I am not going to buy programmes anymore.  This is partly because you end up with a pile of programmes which mean very little after the show is over.  And partly because, if I am going to criticize shows I've seen, then I remain ignorant of the names of the cast. 

  I collected theatre programmes from the time I first went to theatre - the Old Vic in London which, in my school days was totally devoted to Shakespeare and we were duly taken there as a cultural experience.  Sidetracking - I must tell you that as an impressionable 15 year old we were taken on a school trip to see 'Othello'.  Richard Burton was playing the Moor and John Neville was Iago.  I only had eyes for Mr. Neville and stood at the stage door to get his autograph - the first one in my memorable Autograph book.  I totally ignored Mr. Burton - I ask you!

  My programme collection was finally donated to the Royal Theatrical Fund for them to sell and make some money for the Retired Actors' Home. 

 But back to Beauty and the Beast.  It was an excellent production with some very memorable performances.  To be honest, most of the characters were excellent and it is difficult to single out anyone for particular praise but I have to say the chap playing the Baddie - Gaston - was absolutely superb  - his timing was perfection and his caricature outstanding, as was the performance of his side-kick.  All the strange  characters in the Castle of the Beast were great.  Let me explain - the spell which has condemned the Prince to be a Beast until or unless he is released by love, has also condemned those living in the castle gradually to metamorphose into inanimate objects e.g.  the housekeeper, Mrs. Potts is becoming a Teapot, the Major Domo a Clock and the Valet a Candlebra.  Instead of hands the Valet, Lumiere, has candles which regularly come alight with flames.   I think he was  my particular favourite with his lovely French accent  - fey, camp and gorgeous.

 The lead lady was lovely but in her high notes she had what I have dubbed the Andrew Lloyd Webber voice.  By this I mean the strangulated and strident top notes which come from the shoulders rather than the diaphragm.  This is a totally subjective comment.  Having worked in theatre and learned about Intercostal Diaphragmatic Breathing - the voice should come up through the body using the mouth as an echo chamber and then you get the rich resonance.  The Lloyd Webber singing certainly achieves the high notes but, I think, at the expense of the richness and roundness of tone.

 She was, however, a lovely actress and brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat, with her reaction to the Beast.  Sadly, the Beast for me was one of the weakest characters in the production - I don't think his voice was up to it.  And though it was no fault of his, I didn't think the make-up etc made him look fearsome enough. I thought he looked like those make-up faces they do on young children at Craft Fairs and Exhibitions.

 There are no memorable songs in the show - as is the case with so many musicals.  As a friend of mine once commented - you come out 'singing the scenery'.

 But the show was totally and absolutely enjoyable - a wonderful romp.  The costumes were breathtaking as were the sets and the cast were very strong indeed.

 If you haven't already booked, do try and see it - it's on till mid March I think.

 VERDICT -  A totally wonderful evening at the theatre.


 Sadly Pieter-Dirk Uys is not performing at the moment.  I'd go a long way to watch any of his shows.  How he  has got away with his irreverence, and not been clapped in irons, beats me.  He is a marvelous performer.

Our next outing is to see Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna - don't forget to bring your Gladdies!!

 I have noticed that the hits on my Website from South Africa have gone up in leaps and bounds from a standing start of 2. Well the only way is up isn't it.  So I hope all you lovely people will keep tuning in and I shall attempt to entertain and enlighten you.

 You live in a wonderful country and are much blessed to be doing so.

 Bye for now.  Jan

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