Wexford People

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Oyster Lane production is of West End calibre

OYSTER LANE Theatre Group's production of Beauty and the Beast opened in triumph on the Dun Mhuuire stage this week.

The show which continues nightly until Saturday with a matinee performance on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. is a family entertainment highlight of the Opera Festival fringe.

Five months of rehearsals converted to a stunning production when the curtain went up on Monday night.

The amazing costumes shipped in from London are worth the admission ticket on their own.

The multi-talented Theatre Group have spared no expense in putting on a show to rival any professional company.

The production convincingly confirms Wexford as a fertile breeding ground for West End-style talent.

Given the scale of the show, Suzanne O' Leary, the first female director in Oyster Lane's history must be feeling exhausted, especially since she is also the choreographer.

But she must be pleased that all the hard work done over many months of nights in John's Road school hall has paid off with a show to be proud of.

Beauty and the Beast impresses with a strong cast, great singing, fabulous costumes and lighting and a live orchestra conducted by the musical director and chorus master Patrick O' Leary.

New members Emma Shore and Declan Taylor are a perfect Belle and the Beast.

Neal O' Leary is brilliant in the role of the egotistical Gaston while his young sidekick Lefou played by Dylan Walsh is only trotting behind him.

Kevin Reade is Lumiere the candlestick and you can see why he is an AIMS runner-up for Best Actor. His performance is faultlessly good.

Caroline O' Connell excels as Mrs. Potts and the experienced comic actor Paul Walsh does not disappoint as Cogsworth.

Maria Gore is wonderfully flirtatious as Babette and the Silly Girls are played with exaggerated and love-struck adoration by Niamh Cullen, April Dowdall and Gemma Hore.

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There are also convincing performances by Fergal Miller as Belle's father and Andrew Smith as D'arque.

Since Oyster Lane is a training ground for young Wexford performers, there is a large supporting case of dancers and chorus members enhancing the colourful action on stage.

Beauty and the Beast is a perfect Opera Festival outing for all the family.