While some theatres have been open since May and some playing to sold out full capacity audiences for over a month now, it's important to remember that not all theatres have been able to reopen yet.
Wednesday 25th August saw the Bristol Hippodrome open its doors for the first time in just under 18 months - and what a way to come back, with the world premiere of the revised version of Disney's classic Beauty and the Beast.
In this post I'm going to talk about what went down at the first night of this beautiful show along with pictures from the theatre and the curtain call at the end of the show. I won't be reviewing the show completely as this was only the first night so allowances need to be made.
Bristol Hippodrome has been filled with brilliant little details around the "Be our guest" theme which was fitting for the first time they had reopened. The box office having a different line on each window was an inspired touch!
The outside has a beautiful display of roses surrounding the title. Opening night even featured a green screen photo opportunity outside where you could get a fantastic souvenir.
Here's how mine turned out. Lovely little memento to remember a fabulous night.
There was even a reopening ceremony with a ribbon and giant novelty scissors (make sure never to run with them) where the first customer through the door got to cut the ribbon. A lovely moment which meant a lot to everybody in the area who has been desperate for this gorgeous theatre to reopen.
This is a Disney musical so you know the merchandise is going to be amazing... if not a teensy bit expensive (£40 for a t-shirt anyone?). Not only did they did not disappoint with some truly gorgeous merch, it even comes with a brilliantly decorated store.
Just a normal programme for £5 so far though I'm sure a souvenir brochure will be added once all the production photos are out.
On to the show itself - the curtain features the beautiful image from the tour. Following a short speech from director and choreographer Matt West, it was on with the show (Late of course but would you expect anything less from a first night?)
The show is as beautiful as you'd expect, and thankfully with minimum beastly behaviour in the audience (though there's always one, isnt there?). As it is a touring production, there are more video projections than you'd expect in the West End but then this is sometimes the only way to achieve some of the needed effects. The costumes are exquisite and there are some great moments of choreography, particularly in showstopper and iconic number 'Be Our Guest'. The title track 'Beauty and the Beast' was gorgeous to witness, with the two leads faithfully recreating one of Disney's most loved sequences.
As for the cast - not a weak link among them. Sam Bailey as Mrs Potts, Gavin Lee as Lumiere and Nigel Richards as Cogsworth were all utterly fabulous, Tom Senior as Gaston was the camp loveable villain we all love to hate. Emmanuel Kojo gave a brilliant performance as Beast but the star of the show was undoubtedly the wonderful Courtney Stapleton who thrilled as Belle. Oozing charisma, this was clearly the role she was born to play, and her big act two solo number 'A Change In Me' was surely one of the greatest performances to have ever been seen on that huge stage.
Here are some pictures from the curtain call:
An absolutely phenomenal show that does the job of recreating all the wonder from the film (and thankfully less wooden acting than the remake). If the theme at Bristol Hipppodrome was to be completely extra all day, the fact the staff were shooting confetti on the audience as they walked out of the venue did the trick.
Beauty and the Beast plays at Bristol Hippodrome until September 18th before heading to Liverpool, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Dublin with more dates to follow. Who knows? Maybe we could even see it in the West End soon?
For dates tickets, see https://www.beautyandthebeastmusical.co.uk/
Look out for another Disney themed first night post on Friday when I reveal all about Frozen.