Review by Ashleigh Wilmot

THIS was not your typical end-of-year performance. Perins School’s production of Beauty and the Beast was so big, they put on a box office, a foyer area and two bars to accommodate the hundreds of parents and friends excited to see what the students had been working on.

The classic story tells the tale of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is a young prince trapped under a spell of an enchantress. The fairy-tale experience began with a buzz from the audience and all the crew involved. The cast were outstanding and at no point did it feel like a school production.

In particular, Belle, played by Amy Mills, captivated the audience with her natural talent and impressive vocals. The Beast’s servants definitely charmed the audience and Mrs Potts, played by Hannah Monk, demonstrated an endearing relationship with the loveable Chip, played by Connor Mills, and performed an outstanding solo of ‘Tale as Old as Time’.

Ben Watts, who played Gaston, was also a stand-out performer and although he was one of the youngest leads (Year 9), his natural charisma and ability to connect with the audience was second to none.

Perins School Theatre involved children from Sun Hill Infants School, as well as seven feeder schools so there was naturally a community-feel to the occasion.

Other students performed in a large choir at the front of the stage which was a welcomed addition to the show, however, the pupils were not lit well which reduced their overall impact. Similarly, the school orchestra were West End standard, and learnt the entire score, but their talent was unfortunately not seen until the curtain call.

That said, the show had great pace, brilliant comic timing, and felt and looked effortless.

The school’s partnership with M3 Productions is a match-made in theatrical heaven. The lighting, special effects and set added to the colossal creation and it was great to see some Perins alumni helping out backstage.

The extravagant set coupled with the beautiful costumes provided spectacular aesthetics which really helped bring the stage to life.

With cuts to funding and schools contemplating turning their back on the arts, it’s reassuring that Perins is bucking the trend with Marilitsa Alexiou, director of creative arts, leading the way.

The show ended with a standing ovation – and that’s exactly what it deserved.