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Photos by Angus Tosh

We're delighted to have received the following review from Pauline Surrey of NODA who came to see our production of
Disney's Beauty and the Beast on Thursday 15th February.
Congratulations to everyone!

This musical version of the old fairy tale premiered on Broadway in 1994 and eventually ran for over 5000 performances. It is currently the 10th longest running production in history. With a huge cast of 33, and the most amazing costumes, Ewhurst Players wowed their lucky audiences with this ambitious undertaking.

Ewhurst’s Village Hall is a cosy space, with a small bar to the rear, and tiered seating. For this production, part of the auditorium was used to extend the performing area, with seating in the round. This worked very well. The well-designed programme offered an interesting note from the Chairman, a piece on the origins of Beauty and the Beast and its Disney version, and its transformation into the musical. Interesting cast profiles; a page on the work and history of the Players; and the useful list of musical numbers were included.

This was a very ambitious production and included several excellent sets. There was a castle, a dungeon, a village, a forest, a tavern, a marvellous library, a cottage, and so on. Props were intriguing, including a crazy machine invented by Belle’s father, and a large tea trolley with huge teacup to house young Chip. There was so much here to intrigue and amuse us.

Both lighting and sound were very effective throughout, coloured lighting was used to create the different moods. The balance of recorded music and singing was very good.

As I said, this was a very ambitious production, and the costumes were absolutely astounding. There was a huge clock; a huge tea pot; a candelabra; a wardrobe; marvellous wolves costumes; strange headgear for Belle’s father; knives, forks, spoons and napkins for the ‘Be Our Guest’ scene; pretty dresses for Belle, and of course, the amazing and pretty horrific Beast himself. And I must not forget the condiments: salt, pepper, ketchup, vinegar, mustard and even the menu! I won’t say the costumes made this production, because of course the talented Ewhurst cast and director made it, but the costumes were absolutely fundamental to the fascination this production awakened it its audience. We were spellbound.

This was a production I could easily have enjoyed a second time. It was mesmerising and faultless. Meg Bray must be congratulated in the decision to put it on (the village hall has a small backstage area – where did they store these huge costumes, where did the large cast congregate?) Not only did Meg direct this huge undertaking so brilliantly, her choreography was marvellous too. The dancers really used the space well and blended with the chorus seamlessly. The standard of dancing was excellent. Some of the young wolves were indeed very young, but their performance was wonderful, and they looked terrifying in their realistic costumes.

Belle (Lucy Burr) was considered odd by the villagers, because firstly she was the daughter of, in their opinion, the crazy inventor Maurice (Mike Humphries), and secondly she loved books. Very strange, they felt. Burly Gaston (Johnny Burr), so admired by all the village girls, set his sights on Belle, who definitely did not return his interest. All three of these characters were well-rounded and real, so we knew we were in for a treat. Young Lefou, a village lad, was well-played by Harvey Porter-Norton. Maurice got lost in the forest, and came across the Beast’s castle. He was thrown in the dungeon. Plucky Belle set off to find her father, and begged for his release in exchange for her own freedom.

And here the fun began, as we met all the strange characters who inhabited this place. Larger than life they all were. Cogsworth the clock (Simon Fraser), Babette the maid (Stephanie Kay), Mrs Potts the teapot (Nicki Payne) and her sweet teacup child Chip (Florence Ansell/Melissa Ware), Madame de la Grande Bouche the wardrobe (Julia Heathcote). All were wonderful, creating such an odd world. Ben Cornish as the amazing Lumiere was absolutely fabulous as he made this role his own, with his intriguing moves, facial expressions, and good French accent. All at first seemed very threatening, quite scary. We met the horrendous Beast, with his huge claws, a fine performance from Ben Aveyard.

Gradually the atmosphere softened the longer Belle was around. She was given her own room, with wardrobe, and invited to dinner. There followed the sparkling number ‘Be Our Guest’, with the dancing knives, forks, spoons and charming condiments and menu, accompanied by a great dance routine, which included a can-can by the napkins! Brilliant! Such a huge cast in such a relatively small space, we were so impressed by their vim and vigour.

And so this fine show sailed along to its happy conclusion, with the wedding of Belle to the handsome and gentle Prince, who had been released, of course, from his curse by Belle’s love.

Wonderful work, Ewhurst Players, everyone was at the top of their game.

Pauline Surrey, Regional Representative / Volunteer, East Hampshire & North West Surrey

AUTUMN 2024 PRODUCTION

Script reading
Wednesday 12th June at 7pm
Auditions
Thursday 20th June at 7.30pm &
Sunday 23rd June at 2.00pm

All in the Village Hall 

Our autumn production this year will be The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers. It’s a classic Lord Peter Wimsey murder mystery and it’s never been performed on the stage before, for the simple reason that no one has ever adapted it - until now.

A few years ago, we got in touch with the trustees of the Dorothy L. Sayers’ estate to see if we could get permission to adapt it. After much correspondence with the trustees of the estate and their agents - not forgetting COVID - they gave their approval and we recently signed the contract. The script is written and ready to go.
 
Without giving too much away, the story is set in a village in the Fens in the late 1920s. There’s a robbery, a mutilated and unidentifiable corpse and, like in Ewhurst, a rich cast of characters, many of whom are hiding a secret or two. There's also some atrocious weather to contend with - and some bell ringing.

We hope that many of you will want to get involved. It is, after all, going to be a world premiere and it is our 50th birthday year! There are large and small parts for both men and women and we anticipate some actors will be playing multiple roles. Some characters only appear in a couple of ensemble scenes, so rehearsal commitments will be quite small for them.

Of course, the central character is Lord Peter Wimsey. He's an aristocratic amateur detective and the hero of many of Dorothy Sayers' novels. (He's her equivalent of Agatha Christie's Poirot.) It's a large part with a lot of lines (sorry), but it’ll be a fantastic opportunity for someone to originate the character on the stage and stamp their personality on one of literature’s greatest detectives. We hope someone out there is up for the challenge.

The performance dates will be 30 October - 2 November 2024. See above for dates of the read-through and the auditions. If you have any questions, please contact chairman@ewhurstplayers.com.

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