Beauty and the Beast The Musical

Shubshri Kandiah and Brendan Xavier in Disney's Beauty and The Beast the Musical photo by Daniel BoudWhat a treat! It was Broadway’s best in Brisbane! Everything – scenes, lighting, costumes and characters combined to provide a sensational visual and auditory feast. A very satisfying treat!

Since its conception as a fairytale in long-ago France, Beauty and the Beast has travelled quite a journey to international fame. A book, an animated Disney film and a Broadway musical which has toured the world.

When the film was first released in 1991, impressed critics immediately recommended that it become a Broadway musical. Thankfully it did. Very successfully so. The musical ran for 13 years on Broadway. I had the privilege of seeing it when I visited New York during that time.

American author, Linda Woolverton rewrote both the story as a book as well as the libretto for the musical. Cleverly, she expanded the characters of the Beast and his iconic castle staff.

Music and lyrics are by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who were behind the phenomenal success of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Later, Tim Rice replaced Ashman who died suddenly, aged only 40.

Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a moody, selfish Prince who has been punitively transformed into something monstrous. (I thought he looked like a combination of a hot rugby league player and a stud bull). To reverse the spell and bring about reversion into human form, Beast must truly love and be loved in return. As the rose petals fall, it seems an impossible hope.

Gareth Jacobs Hayley Martin Rohan Browne Jayde Westaby and Alana Tranter in Disney's Beauty and the Beast photo by Daniel BoudThankfully, Beast’s penchant for imprisonment provides the ideal candidate in Belle. The enchanted household staff, who have a vested interest in reversion, are delighted. Brendan Xavier was a magnificent Beast.

In the character of Belle, I saw elements of Jane Austen’s, Catherine from Northanger Abbey. Excellent casting saw Brisbane-based Shubshri Kandiah as Belle and Brendan Xavier as Beast. At every turn, Kandiah was superb as she moved between the provincial village and cursed castle, via the wolfy forest. Her voice is divine. Her performance was impeccable. An all round, accomplished, star and stage darling.

Despite her humble origins, Belle is a thinker, well read and already skilled in court etiquette. She’s ‘a good influence’ on the Beast and is delighted by his enormous library. She discovers that the way to a beast’s heart is through an Arthurian legend. Belle’s loveable dad arrives on his, (not yet invented) motorised scooter.

Unswerving commitment to character by the performers ensured that the castle staff had individual, endearing personalities. They owned those superbly complex costumes which were designed by Anne Hould-Ward.

Gareth Jacobs as Cogsworth was the perfect timepiece, aptly mirroring how we all feel when chasing time: stressed and desperately trying to keep up with things.

Alana Tranter as Madame was serene, elegant and graceful in that bulky but beautiful costume with the Elizabethan rear neckline.

Mrs Potts was wonderfully played by Jayde Westaby from the Gold Coast. Again, a graceful, smiling performance in a complex costume. A big bravo for ‘her son’, young James Mitchell who was little Chip on opening night. Great job little man!

Golden man, Lumiere (Rohan Browne) with his Jim Carey looks, charm and charisma literally glowed on stage. A real smooth operator and an accomplished dancer.

Browne was perfectly offset by Hayley Martin who gave a sultry, silken, vixen of a performance as Babette. Another standout dancer.

Gaston. God or goon with great guns? This character epitomised the narcissistic personality type: no empathy for others. No respect for boundaries and no capacity for realistic self-evaluation. Suavely played by Jackson Head. Hugh Jackman had this role in Melbourne in 1995.

Gareth Jacobs, Hayley Martin, Shubshri Kandiah, Rohan Browne and the company of Disney's Beauty and The Beast the Musical - performing Be Our Guest photo by Daniel BoudNatasha Katz is to be applauded for the magic she worked with her astonishing lighting design. An acclaimed professional, Katz is a six-time Tony award winner. She was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2023.

The varied settings were convincing. We were taken from country cottage to a massive castle in mere seconds. Furnishings in the castle were exquisite. In addition to the mother of all libraries, there were grand staircases, candelabra and lush textiles. Styles were gothic, baroque and rococo.

The production has its own ten member orchestra plus conductor. Some of the members play three orchestral instruments. They were wonderful! Big bravo!

Matt West is both Director and Choreographer of this tremendous production. Enormous congratulations! Every previous or forthcoming accolade will be well deserved.

Unsurprisingly, the show received a standing ovation. I heartily and highly recommend this production to residents of and visitors to, Brisbane.

Beauty and the Beast The Musical
Lyric Theatre – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Performance: Saturday 17 February 2024
Season continues to 19 May 2024

Following the Brisbane season, Beauty and the Beast The Musical will play Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre from 27 June 2024. For more information, visit: for details.

Images: Shubshri Kandiah and Brendan Xavier in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – photo by Daniel Boud | Gareth Jacobs, Hayley Martin, Rohan Browne, Jayde Westaby and Alana Tranter in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – photo by Daniel Boud | Gareth Jacobs, Hayley Martin, Shubshri Kandiah, Rohan Browne and the company of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – photo by Daniel Boud

Review: Michele-Rose Boylan