Aspiring performers take to the stage to perform in Beauty and the Beast Junior.

On Sunday 1st July, I visited Theatre Severn to watch the students from Shrewsbury's Stagecoach perform in Disney’s, Beauty and the Beast Junior. The story that is set in a provincial town in France, features a bright young heroine named Belle, her handsome and loutish suitor Gaston, a cursed young prince and an enchanted castle.

Theatre Severn was the perfect venue to host this spectacle performance, with almost every seat being sold. Impressively this production boasted a professional set and some eye-catching costumes. A series of theatrical clothes were used to switch between locations with ease, including the famous library that the Beast gifts to Belle in a plea to woo her.

It was clear throughout this performance that each and every student were enjoying themselves and thrilled to be performing in this professional venue.

As with many performance academies, it is important that each student has their moment to showcase and develop their skills. The director of the performance had clearly considered this and managed to give each student an opportunity to shine, by adding extra Silly Girls, a string of narrators and a few more items of enchanted cutlery.

As the performance progressed, as did the students' pace, the performance was impressively slick. The entrances and exits of each ensemble member had clearly been considered, eliminating any traffic issues, and ensuring performance that kept the audience engaged.

The story is accompanied by a superb soundtrack, written by Alan Menken and featuring favourites such as Be Our Guest, Belle and the title song Beauty and the Beast. The Stagecoach students performed the numbers with a great deal of flair and commitment, making the urge to sing along very difficult.

These budding performers are clearly receiving the coaching needed, they were confident and full of energy on stage. I was most impressed with the ‘Early Stages’ group, who are aged between four to six years old. Assisted by their teachers, they sung and danced without any of the usual waving to their parents.

I was thrilled to hear the younger members of the principal cast, using their voices safely, articulating and not shouting, which is becoming more and more common.

Adding to the excitement of this musical performance, the show was also part of a Guinness Book of Record attempt. Two hundred Stagecoach schools across the world, all trod the boards at six o’clock, performing this Disney classic. Up to 6,500 students were involved in this record attempt.

I truly enjoyed this performance, it was a great showcase of the talent on offer in Shrewsbury and in a time where technology is occupying lots of young people's attention, it was excellent to see all of the performers, and audience fully engaged in simple storytelling.

Article: Michael Jenkins

Photography: Steve DeJetly Marks

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