Sunderland Empire’s Beauty and the Beast a great way to start the summer holidays

Annie Guy as Belle in Centre Stage North East's production of Beauty and the Beast at Sunderland Empire.
Annie Guy as Belle in Centre Stage North East's production of Beauty and the Beast at Sunderland Empire.
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IT MAY be a tale as old as time, but Beauty and the Beast still has the power to enchant.

The Disney classic has been brought to life in Sunderland by Centre Stage North East – and what a show it is.

From the sumptuous costumes to the note-perfect singing and colourful characters, this production is a feast for the eyes and ears.

At the helm is Annie Guy as Belle. Her strong vocals, control of voice and spellbinding stage presence brought a flavour of the West End to Wearside.

Her love interests, Steven Berry as Beast and Oliver Hawick as Gaston, also impress. The latter is a mass of masculinity and vanity with his bulging muscles, Adonis poses and deep tones. Hawick shows a flair for comic timing as he attempts to woo the beauty of the piece.

It is of course the beast who wins her hand and Berry’s voice booms around the theatre as he leaves his subjects quaking in his shadow.

His loyal servants-cum-household objects are a delight to watch, particularly squabbling clock and candelabra, Cogsworth (Peter Calvert) and Lumiere (Nathan Elwick).

Mrs Potts (Sam Oliver) and Chip (Nathan Clegg) also cannot fail to charm.

It is with these characters that the costume department really excels and Be Our Guest is a stand out scene as the enchanted objects entertain Belle – just magical.

In comparison, pared down number and title track, Beauty and the Beast, packs a real emotional punch as Belle gives her heart to the beast.

This is a touchingly told tale and being a guest at this show will not leave you disappointed. Shows are at 2pm and 7pm today and tomorrow. Tickets are £16 from 0844 8472499.

Katy Wheeler