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Beauty and the Beast Jr: Night of the hunter in classic fairy tale

Now that the kerfuffle over the "blasphemous" Bible play is but a cringeworthy memory, normal service was resumed last night at Newtownabbey's Theatre At The Mill.

No doubt if the religious fundamentalists had chosen to be offended by the theatre's amateur youth staging of Disney's Beauty And The Beast Jr, they could have cited the human-animal hybrid or the general themes of magic and superstition.

But they would have denied a brilliant young cast its moment to shine in this endearing and enchanting adaptation.

From the same troupe that brought Jack And The Beanstalk, Snow White, Aladdin and Cinderella to the Theatre At The Mill stage, the show was appropriately slick and lively.

Newtownabbey's 'Beastly' prince conjured the necessary sense of menace as much through the actor's intense performance as the outlandish costume design, while the show's Belle was suitably a 'Beauty'.

But the titular twosome were very nearly eclipsed by the company's gonzo Gaston, the hunter whose strutting Elvis-like characterisation was almost more cartoonish than the 1991 animated original. Elsewhere, the classic songs were sung well, the supporting cast hit their marks and the timeless fairy tale shone through.

Disney's Beauty And The Beast Jr runs at the Newtownabbey theatre until Sunday.

Belfast Telegraph