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Beauty & The Beast as presented by Nenagh Choral Society

18TH – 23RD March 2024

Adjudication Performance 18th March 2024

This was my second visit in my term as Adjudicator to this Theatre. It is a theatre full of memories, and posters from many past shows adorn the walls with pride and beauty. A lovely theatre and a gorgeous welcome awaited me, and I looked forward with anticipation to this group's performance at the opening of their run in the lovely town of Nenagh. There was a minor issue when I was shown to my seat in the auditorium in that my seat had already been sold, so I offered to move and eagerly awaited curtain up.

The Director of this production, Mr Greg Browne, brought this enchanting story to life on stage. His leadership resulted in a captivating production, providing the audience with a delightful and cohesive experience. There were gorgeous “pictures” throughout, and “Be My Guest” was a standout visual. I liked the set and the use of the stage extending downstage left and right to create two “wings” and areas for the cast. It also utilized and maximized the spaces, and created different scenes in these for the cast during the story, which in every instance were very well-lit and very effective. The wolf scene was also very clever, with a lovely direction. This scene used space very well while the wolves danced around in a circle, threatening poor Belles's father, Maurice and was very clever and worked beautifully.

The Musical Director for this production, Laura Kearney, consistently demonstrated a high level of talent and expertise in her direction of the musical score. The vocal performances, with their lovely harmonies, were meticulously rehearsed. Under her direction, the Orchestra added a rich depth and emotional resonance to each musical scene, enhancing the show throughout. Ms Kearney's attention to detail and ability to seamlessly blend the Orchestra and the cast with empathy and impact was genuinely remarkable. The opening number, “Belle,” set the tone immediately with a lovely sound, and it was here that I first witnessed the strength of the ensemble singing. There were so many moments in the music of this production that were so beautifully brought to life but it was a pity that the bow out number after the show had technically finished, which was unaccompanied, was not up to the previous high vocal standard. As musical director, you created a lovely unity between you, your orchestra, and your cast, which is highly commendable and a charming job, Ms Kearney. Congratulations.

The choreographer was Ms Stephanie Browne. The dance numbers were well-choreographed, enhancing and showcasing the talents of the individual performers beautifully. The dance numbers were precise. They were full of energy and life; you brought out the best in your team, and the dance routines were impressive. There were so many beautiful choreographed numbers of Ms Browne throughout, but I wish to mention a few that made a significant impression on me. “Human Again” was simply a picture, graceful movements, a happy song, and a joy to watch. The gorgeous dancers in their magnificent white dresses dance in Act 2 with Belle and The Beast, where Belle asks the Beast to join her for dinner. This time, the joy in this number was palpable and a highlight of the show in every way, especially in dance. Simply gorgeous. And the Mob Song was a standalone success. “Be My Guest” was a highlight. When you have such talented dancers at your disposal Ms Browne, it allows your talent to simply shine. Well done.

The Stage Manager was Philip Talbot. This show was well run, with no hitches, delays, or long pauses in set changes. They moved freely and were visually a treat. I loved the chandelier and the gorgeous painted houses of the village. The use of the wings downstage left and right was very clever, giving more space for the cast, given the small stage space behind. The castle set was genuinely fabulous. It was beautifully ornate, impeccably dressed in grandeur gold and velvet, and it had attention to detail, such as the wallpaper/effect on the walls, which gave an element of wealth and affluence. The village set was also authentic and very practical, with lovely colours. It was all pretty, ornate, decorative, and well-utilised.

The lighting was good for the most part; attractive blues, reds, and spotlights on the cast were bright and significant, creating a lovely ambiance in most scenes. I do feel. However, in a lot of the scenes that took place in the castle, the blue lighting used was a little too dark, or indeed, it needed more lighting or more vital lighting from above as many of the characters because of the darkness of the blue LED lights I could not see sufficiently. The main characters and ensemble in one of the two castle scenes were not lit enough, which was a pity. The village scenes were very different: bright, transparent, sunny, concise, and appropriately lit.

The sound was excellent, and there were no issues at all. Main characters were always heard, and the sound was sublime when the ensemble sang in unison with the orchestra. It was a very professional and very balanced sound throughout the show. Bravo.

I really could not fault the costumes in any way. The attention to detail throughout was gorgeous. I adored the white dresses on the lady's chorus, and again, the villager's costumes were so authentic. The Beast and his “headdress” were a vision and looked very good to the audience. This was a superb piece in itself. The costumes for Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, and Cogsworth were particularly striking in their beautiful attention to detail, along with the decorated costume of Madame La Grand Bouche, which was multifunctional and held various garments yet was pretty at the same time. Hair and wigs were also of a very high standard. The makeup was excellent again. The Beast, to mention but one, and Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Madam Le Grand Bouchon were highly ornate and decorative and breath-taking overall. Excellent work in these areas.

Brendan Long played the part of the Beast. Firstly, your mask, horns, and hair were visually spectacular and practical. Mr Long, you have a lovely singing voice, rapport, and chemistry with your Belle, played by Claire Heffernan. You looked great together. You were excellent, and your emotions were displayed very well in their various guises. The transformation of your character from being angry, alone, bitter, and sad Beast was like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Your lyrical voice and stature greatly suited this role, Mr Long. “If I Can't Love Her” was so touching and beautiful. It was sung with such a feeling that it brought a tear to my eye. This part suited you so very well—solid lead and truly impressive. Congratulations.

The part of Belle was played by Claire Heffernan. Firstly, Ms Heffernan, visually, you were a magnificent Belle. Your gorgeous voice soared through the hall from the moment you arrived on stage, “Belle,” “No Matter What,” and “Home “ was particularly poignant. Your eyes consistently and beautifully tell the story with beautiful expression. “A Change in Me” was a showstopper. You also had a message to say something true to yourself. True beauty comes from within. And you were indeed a lovely Belle. Bravo.

Adam Skeffington played the part of Gaston. He was very sophisticated, had a big ego, loved himself, and was convinced that Belle would throw herself at his feet; Mr. Skeffington, you swaggered in like a rockstar to meet his adoring fans!!. Super role. Gorgeous Costumes. It has excellent acting and a fabulous vocal that I was impressed with from the first note sung. You moved with flair and ease, and your confidence oozed off the stage! Mr Skeffington, you were part of a solid front line. You took this part and made it yours—an admirable performance. So, very well done.

James O’Donovan played the part of Lumiere. You were a lively and charismatic character from the moment you arrived on stage—lovely elegance and flair throughout the performance. You looked marvellous in a fabulous costume. But to me, you were sincere, warm, emotional, and adorable in this character. “Something There” opening of Act 2 was a unique number and sung so very well. You brought this character to life, Mr. O’Donovan, and your stage presence and comedic wit were sometimes admirable.

Lorna Ryan played the part of Mrs Potts. Aww. My favourite teapot ever! Where do I start with this lovely part, and how well did Ms Ryan play it. You had lovely facial expressions and gestures, and there was a connection with your audience from the get-go. Young and old. A sweet, melodic voice, your solo in Act 2, “Beauty and The Beast,” sung so beautifully and with gorgeous emotion. You were warm, sincere, and a powerful actress, gorgeously bringing this part to life. It was lovely to watch you.

The part of Cogsworth was played by Mr Greg Starr. You were the most entertaining clock I've ever come across in my life! Congratulations on physically mastering this character's movement and portrayal, which cannot have been easy and perhaps a very hot costume to wear. Again, “Something There “ and “Human Again” were highlights, and so very well done to you in making this role your own: such a lovely performance, Mr Starr.

Sharon Kelly played the part of Madame La Grand Bouche. A grand and dramatic opera singer turned into a wardrobe in the Beast Castle; you were eccentric and had a lovely accent. I loved it when you pulled clothes out of your “Drawers” when dressing Belle for dinner. The subtle nuances of double meaning here were well done. You are a very talented actress, Ms Kelly. I loved your performance.

The part of Babette was played by Louise Cormack. First and foremost, Ms Cormack, you were full of life, fun, and love from the moment we met you. There was a lovely playfulness about you and your interactions with the other Castle staff, particularly Lumiere the Candelabra. It showed your vibrant personality with that vast smile and beautiful charm, which was most evident throughout. “Human Again” was a significant number. You were a great flirt and a romantic character in your romantic interactions with Lumiere. There was something very mysterious and fun about you in this role, and I get the feeling you enjoyed playing this role. It was indeed a lovely role for you, Ms Cormack. Bravo.

The adorable Kaedan Hogan Long played Chip's part. What a gorgeous Chip you were, indeed, Mr Long, and bravo for looking so comfortable in that teacup throughout the show. Congratulations, young man, you were simply superb. Never lose that gorgeous smile.

Dylan Noonan Kelly played the part of LeFou. Blind devotion to Gaston as his loyal sidekick was what I noticed in your first moments on stage. Devotion would be the word I’d use. There were some lovely comical humour and gestures, and your portrayal of your awe for Gaston was played well. If not a little unnerving, given Gaston's egotistical nature.

You were both refreshing and entertaining in this role, with some very witty one liners and pure physical comedy in parts that brought a laugh from the audience—well done. It is a delightful role and very well played.

Pat Kelly played the part of Maurice. You were crucial in this show's storyline, with a huge heart and a little bit of whimsy, which added gloriously to this part that you made your own. Your love for your daughter Belle was one of the highlights of the evening. You looked so vulnerable, which endeared the audience to you more. You looked great, Mr Kelly. “No Matter What” with Belle and your solo “Maurice Travels” set the scene early for the lovable character you were. Gorgeous part for you. Well Done.

Mr. David Casey played Monsieur D’arc and Bookseller. It was a small role, but it made an impact through his character, which was a little creepy and manipulative. Mr Casey acted very well. Compared to the more light-hearted characters, I always sensed an element of danger and foreboding. A good part played well, Mr Casey.

Paul Browne played the Narrator. This gentleman's lovely, lilting, soothing voice brought us through this enchanting story, and the audience was captivated by the first word spoken. Sean Maher played the Baker. You were light-hearted, warm, and friendly in the village. You had a lovely energy, Mr Maher.

Silly Girl 1, Silly Girl 2, and Silly Girl 3 were played by Maire Long, Megan Maher, and Kaitlyn, respectively. Full of fun, mischief, and a considerable part of the story, these three young ladies lifted the energy and fun element a notch each time they arrived on stage: fabulous costumes, wigs, and makeup. Super parts played brilliantly. Well they were done to each one of you in these roles. I looked forward to you coming on stage each time. Well done.

Finally, the lovely Chorus. There are lovely harmonies and some lovely singing throughout this show. Harmonious with a beautiful blend of distinct, evident, and melodic voices. The sweet harmonies in each number were so musical and well performed. I am sure many months of hard work went into creating the sound you did for many of the numbers during this show, with particular reference to the beautiful sounding “Be My Guest,” the opening number, “Belle,” was a delight, and the “Mob Song” again indeed a vocal treat for the audience. Only at the end of the show, as the curtain call, did I feel a difference in the singing and the sound. The choice was made to perform the Finale or Bow unaccompanied. But this piece was not in tune, and felt a little under-rehearsed. This is in complete contrast to the singing in the rest of the show. All the Chorus numbers were superb throughout but this was the bow out and it is a pity that it fell short of the high standards previously heard.

You are a lovely group of people. You put on a charming show, and it was lovely to be back for another show in your beautiful Scouts Hall again. I wish you all continued success. You are such a welcoming and talented society with your talent on stage front and back, and with the production team, nothing will be a problem for you. Best of luck to you all, and thank you again for a lovely evening. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your run.


Adjudicator Sullivan 2023 / 2024

Photos by the society:


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