From dwarf to leading lady – Belle comes home to Rhodes, the very place it all started.
This Christmas, Rhodes Arts Complex in association with Phoenix Theatre Arts present, the spellbinding story of Beauty and the Beast, throughout December until 5th January 2019.
A host of fantastic professional talent makes up a cast well versed in the magic of pantomime and many are no strangers to the Rhodes stage. Coming back to the place where she first caught the performing bug is Bishop’s Stortford’s own, Maisie Humphreys as Belle. At just 9 years old Maisie played one of the Seven Dwarves at the first pantomime staged at Rhodes Arts Complex since it’s refurbishment in 2005. It was the moment Maisie knew this is what she wanted to do – be a performer. Roll the clock forward 13 years, having finished her degree in Musical Theatre and Professional Dance at the world renowned Urdang Academy in London, Maisie decided to audition for Beauty and the Beast at Rhodes Arts Complex. It was as if it were meant to be that Maisie would land her first leading professional role performing on the very stage where it all started.
The 6’ 8” giant playing opposite Maisie as the Beast is Paul Daly. Paul has a number of productions under his belt having graduated from The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) in 2017. Previous credits include The Reluctant Dragon (Quantum Theatre) The Elves and the Toymaker (Pendle Productions) The Trial of Josef K (LIPA) and Mary Barton (LIPA). This will however be his first professional Pantomime and Paul is excited to be spending the festive period frightening local children as the titular Prince who has been transformed into a ghastly monster. Gaston is played by the dashing Buck Braithwaite who has previously graced the Rhodes’ stage as the Prince in both Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (2017) and Cinderella (2016). Abbie Middleton- Evans returns after her star turn as Snow White last year to play his love-smitten sidekick LeFou whilst professional magician and children’s favourite Tom Brace will be bringing some mysticism and magic to the mix as Merlin, the trainee wizard. George Jack, a seasoned performer on the Rhodes’ stage plays the part of Belle’s father.
The production has been in development since January and comes from the same team that brought the record-breaking productions of Cinderella and Snow White to Rhodes Arts Complex. Director and Producer, Phil Dale, who also takes the role of the Dame, Madame Fromage, says; “Belle is a very modern leading lady – she is quirky, but also has a sassy side which the audience will find out through the re-vamped show tunes and up to date choreography. She isn’t just looking for a prince; she wants to experience adventures and all the places she reads about in the books she so loves. Maisie is just perfect for the role and having worked with her in the past when she was much younger it’s wonderful to see her successful progression in a very competitive industry. She will be a role model for local youngsters in more ways than one!”
Maisie adds; “One of the things I’m really looking forward to is performing in front of all the people who taught me and trained with me locally, those who have always supported and encouraged me to pursue my goals. I hope to make them proud of me with a sparkly performance!”
The production will run from Saturday 8 December through to Saturday 5 January taking in more shows than ever before. There will be a total of 53 performances, including 18 dedicated to school audiences, as well as a relaxed performance welcoming children with special needs (including Autistic Spectrum Conditions and/or learning disabilities) and their families. Two “Meet the Cast” shows are included in the programme where patrons will get to meet and take pictures with the cast after the show.
Tickets start at £19 with family tickets from £66 available. Tickets are available via the Box Office on 01279 710 200 or online at rhodesartscomplex.co.uk.
For more information contact:
01279 710 206