At the Rose Theatre in Kingston, the annual Christmas show, featuring a cast of both professional actors and actresses and members of the Rose Youth Theatre, has become a much-loved and anticipated tradition. Originally intended for performance in 2020, this year’s show “Beauty and the Beast” was just as magical as ever.


Written by Ciaran McConville, with music and lyrics by Eamonn O’Dwyer and directed by Lucy Morrell, the story follows three children nervous to move house the following day, who create a tale about a young girl called Bella and her quest to save her dying father and uncover the truth about Villeneuve and the mysterious rose bush in her house, helped by the enigmatic Beast.


This imaginative Rose Original production really was the whole package. A perfectfully crafted blend of catchy songs, seamless choreography and stunning visuals, this retelling of a classic bedtime story was a thoroughly enjoyable show for all the family. The set and costume design, designed by Frankie Bradshaw and Peter Todd, respectively, incorporated the “themes of nature, flowers, fauna and woodland recur[rent] throughout Ciaran’s script”. The initial setting of the childrens’ bedroom efficiently doubled as the location of Bella’s birthday ball, and even more ingeniously later separated to set the stage for her adventure to the Beast’s castle. The darker scenes too worked amazingly well, contrasting intensely with the overall uplifting mood - designing a set with such versatility being no mean feat, I should imagine. Each and every cast member was dressed extravagantly and beautifully, most donning wonderfully vibrant outfits that lended the show a radiant splendour.


The production featured incredibly strong and animated performances by the professional cast, which included Amelia Kinu Muus as Bella and Stanton Wright as the Beast, but the show was stolen by the Rose Youth. Having watched the show on its press night, performed so seamlessly by the Purple Cast of youth actors, it was incredible to see the confidence and energy each young person brought to the stage, from the ensemble members (often tasked with manoeuvring the complex but effective set and props to their places) all the way through to the main cast, such as Jay and Felice. The success of such shows as this are testament to the hard work of the directors of both the show and the Youth Theatre (and everyone working behind the scenes!) and proves yet again that the Rose’s youth, despite the unprecedented last two years, can always be trusted to perform to perfection.


The Rose has created something breathtaking in “Beauty and the Beast”, marking the return of theatre in incredible style. This truly was “a tale as old as time”, but as you’ve never seen it before.