By Charles Way
Beauty and the Beast is published, together with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, in The Classic Fairytales Retold for the Stage. These three re-workings have had multiple professional productions all over the world. They are not pantomimes: they are plays with developed characters and have proved hugely successful with all ages. The plays contain drama, humour, adventure, magic and a deep humanity approached in a modern way. They provide very strong roles for women throughout.
The action takes place in London and the West Country circa 1790. Belle is born in 1775, the same year as Jane Austen.
Cassandra is wild and loves freedom; her sister Belle is timid and afraid of the world, their Father, George Godwin, loves them both. On the day of Cassandra’s engagement he learns that all but one of his ships has been sunk and in a desperate attempt to protect it from looters he rides from London across Dartmoor little knowing what fate holds in store. When his horse throws him George is offered sanctuary in a strange house; he is told he can take anything he wants but not to pick any of the roses. Glad to be alive and not realising the true nature of the master of the house he disobeys. The moment he picks the rose a great beast appears, half man half wolf. The terrified merchant promises to send one daughter to the house in return for his life and thus he returns to London. The deadly promise makes George a sick man and it is Belle who goes to fulfil her father’s promise and save his life. She is met at the gate by a the housekeeper, who unbeknown to Belle is a woman who once loved the man inside the beast and in her rage at being scorned put on him a dreadful curse.
6 (3F 3M). The original production had a strong dance element and two dancers represented the shadows of the house and the wolves.
- George Godwin
- Daniel Knightly/Jan
- The Beast
- The Housekeeper
"An exceptional script.. contains all the ingredients of the classic fairytale with the added dimension of rounded characters who are flawed human beings." Manchester Evening News
"The love story builds to a mesmerising scene of dance and musical rhythm where Belle and the Beast run together through the forest with the wolves. By the time Belle’s kiss transforms the Beast, the children are wide-eyed while adults are left panting for more." Manchester Metro
"Charles Way’s engrossing new version – a beauty considerably more than skin deep. 4 Stars." The Guardian
Originally commissioned and produced by The Library Theatre, Manchester, directed by Roger Haines, music by Richard Taylor, choreography by Liam Steele. The play was specifically written to enable and encourage a strong movement element.
Suitable for the whole family.