Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 April 2015

Matthew Cammelle: Beast of a transformation

Behind the scenes ahead of fairytale musical's new run at Opera House

Feline just fine: A transformed Matthew is roaring to go at last
Feline just fine: A transformed Matthew is roaring to go at last
Matthew prepares for his makeover

From fresh-faced actor to a hairy, scary creature, it's all in a day's work for actor Matthew Cammelle in the Grand Opera House's fairytale musical Beauty and the Beast.

It takes 60 minutes to make the transformation, thanks to Matthew's two experienced assistants, one for costume and one for hair and make-up. The latex mask is glued on alongside his beard, sideburns and bestial fangs.

But surely all those layers would hinder his ability to sing?

"It's specially moulded to fit my face so it doesn't really affect my performance at all," said the veteran musical theatre actor.

Hair plays a major part of his costume, with furry lycra gloves, boots and chest hair making up Cammelle's daily uniform as he sings out the show in an already centrally-heated Grand Opera House.

However, the satisfying bit comes towards the end. "I get to rip the mask and padded clothing off at the end for the Beast-to-Prince metamorphosis ", he said. "Time is tight, but we've managed it up till now."

So far, Matthew has accidentally broken both his tail and one of his fake hairy toes during two performances, but recovered without much fuss.

He added: "We've been very lucky not to have anything else happen."

His costume is modelled on Disney's 1991 film depiction of the Beast, and is set to both terrify and endear show-goers as the musical runs from September 11-22.

When Cammelle first saw his changed appearance, he immediately took a picture on his camera-phone, and sent it to his wife. "Both she and my three-year-old son were appalled," he laughed.

However, Matthew isn't the only member of the cast who has to wear a heavy costume - Lumiere is rumoured to have to drink water between scenes from a special cup because of his candelabra hands.

The show has been playing to full capacity audiences on its national tour which began around three years ago. "It sounds cliched," said Cammelle, "but we have really enjoyed playing to the Northern Irish audience. They have given us a thoroughly warm reception."

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