Review: Disney's Beauty and the Beast at Palace Theatre Manchester

Courtney Stapleton as Belle, in her iconic yellow dress, and Shaq Taylor as Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Courtney Stapleton as Belle and Shaq Taylor as Beast in Disney's Beauty and the Beast - Credit: Johan Persson ©Disney

I defy anyone to leave without a smile on their face after being wrapped in the embrace of Disney's Beauty and the Beast at Manchester's Palace Theatre.

I'm not renowned for my romantic side - even as a child I wasn't entirely convinced by the Disney concept of happily ever after, but the sheer joy of the performance, the sumptuousness of the sets, the talent on the stage and the amazing atmosphere in the auditorium makes this show a must-do, I assure you.

As the lights dimmed, the audience was immediately transfixed by the familiar tones of Angela Lansbury (those who are fans of the Disney animated movie will know) as she explains the tale of how the beast came to be. It's a magical start to what becomes a magical night.

Tom Senior as Gaston and Louis Stockil as Le Fou lead the company in Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Tom Senior as Gaston and Louis Stockil as Le Fou lead the company in Disney's Beauty and the Beast - Credit: Johan Persson

Shaq Taylor dominates the stage as the Beast, stalking about his castle and wowing us with his impressive vocal skills. His solo performance of If I Can't Love Her was an absolute triumph and his added quirks of humour really brought the character to life. The quirky heroine, our Beauty, Belle, played by the talented Courtney Stapleton, was feisty and funny and pitch perfect. She brought the audience all on-side as she  defended her love of books, befriended the castle's servants and fell in love with the man beneath the beast.

Their duet of Something There was sweet and romantic and even I cracked a smile (if you knew me, you'd know that this is quite the triumph), but the prize-winning performance for me had to be the marvellous rendition of Be Our Guest. Lumiere, played by Gavin Lee, worked his candlesticks with style and humour, and, with his talented colleagues, transported us through a dazzling, tap-dancing performance that was sensational and left the audience wanting more as Act One closed.

The double act of Lumiere and Cogsworth (played by Nigel Richards) was exactly what it was meant to be – cheesy, funny and loveable. And I can’t not mention the cutest character, Chip, my personal favourite played by Rojae Simpson, who made the entire audience smile when he was wheeled on stage.

Gavin Lee, Lumiere, & Courtney Stapleton, Belle, & the company in Disney's Beauty & the Beast at Manchester Palace Theatre

Gavin Lee as Lumiere and Courtney Stapleton as Belle lead the company in Disney's Beauty and the Beast at Manchester Palace Theatre - Credit: Johan Persson

The breath-taking scene of Belle walking down the staircase in her bright yellow gown with Mrs Potts (Sam Bailey) singing Beauty and the Beast was a truly spectacular moment, that even those who aren’t a romantic (that would be me, again) could truly appreciate.

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When a show comes along that the whole family can sink into, young or old, cynical (moi, again) or romantic, a lover of musicals or a complete newbie, Disney-addicts or take-it-or-leave it, it's a reason to rejoice - and this show was everything I wasn’t expecting in the best possible way. With beautiful sets, talented actors, show-stopping performances and an ending that made everyone smile, it’s a show I would see again and highly recommend you book your tickets now.

Disney's Beauty and The Beast plays at the Palace Theatre Manchester until 4 June 2022, book your ticket here.