You can always count on the opening night for any production at the Peoples Theatre to be wild with excited kids (and some adults), all jam packed in the unfortunately small foyer. With everyone fuelled up on sugar and jiggling about in their seats, the red curtain opens and gets straight into the action.
I’ve seen many productions at Peoples Theatre, but this one stepped it up to a whole other level. It was clean and polished, the actors were quick on their feet with smooth transitions between scenes and simple set pieces that quickly transformed the set from a beautiful palace to the busy village in one easy swivel of scenery. Although some of the voices were sometimes unclear, their actions carried it through and there was an energy and electricity that moved the story from one moment to the next.
But perhaps the highlight of the show was definitely the animated projection. Although not entirely a new element, Grant Knottenbelt and his wonderful team under the direction of Keith Smith and Jill Girard, integrated the live performances of the actors with the animated images behind a mesh screen so well that it added a new depth to the show in an exciting way. The audience, kids and adults alike, applauded gleefully especially as the Beast tried to defeat the wolves out in the woods, punching and fighting off the wild beasts that appeared through the projection. It brought the story to life in a wonderful synergy between film and live performance. In an age where kids are so drawn to their digital devices or even the television screen, the Peoples Theatre has done well to combine the two forms while introducing young people to live theatre in a new way.
The adult cast is fantastic, with talented voices and enjoyable characters. Each performer brought new life to the age old story, highlighting the importance of never judging a book by its cover. And although that narrative may have gone over a few kid’s heads as one boy from the audience shouted “Kill the beast!”, at one point in the show, you can be assured that everyone was up on their feet in triumph at the end.
Beauty and the Beast Jr is the perfect show for young audiences this festive and holiday season, and the adults will be just as entertained. It’s a timeless classic, and you can’t help by quietly sing along to songs like “Human again” and “Something there”. At least I certainly did, as I reminisced on my childhood.
For bookings call the Peoples Theatre on Telephone (011) 403-1563 / 2340 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For the duration of the run, there will be a collection point at the Peoples Theatre foyer, Peoples Theatre askes audiences to bring non-perishable food stuffs, toiletries for teenage girls and toys for chirldren- boys and girls to donate to The House Group.
The House Group is situated on the Hillbrow/ Berea Boarder. NPO: 037- 622/ Fundraiser number: 011 009 003.
*Images with permission from Buz PR.