A lot of fairy dust and magic spells have been and gone since Disney first debuted Beauty and the Beast on Broadway 26 years ago.

Happily, there's magic by the bucket load at the Liverpool Empire.

Members of the original creative team have reunited for this sparkling new production that features all of the magnificent melodious music and the various sing and laugh along lyrics of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

Indeed, on its opening night in Liverpool, Tim Rice was in the audience to see this re-imagining.

He was clearly delighted at this fautless feast of fun, as will thousands of fans lucky enough to see it during its UK tour.

There are times when you feel you are watching a movie such is the invention and creativity beind such striking video production on a glorious set that has seen those Disney Imagineers shine once more when it comes to vibrant visuals and special effects.

The cast also have wonderful chemistry.

Courtney Stapleton is a shining talent who oozes star quality and charisma - ideal for the beautiful heroine, Belle.

It is one of the most demanding of modern musical roles and asks a lot of those playing her more than belting out a ballad - bookworm Belle is up against all manner of choices in her life and on top of all that this girl with a big heart will fall helplessly in love.

Wirral Globe:

Production photograph by Johan Persson © Disney

Courtney's voice is consistently sublime - capturing the heartbreak, confusion, strength and ultimately fairy tale joy in a succession of emotional songs such as the stirring A Change in Me delivered soaringly and beautifully.

On my visit the Beast was played by Alyn Hawke. The key success to his fully-rounded portrayal is that the audience are with him from the outset even when he has been rather beastly eventually digging out his sensitivity with a little help from his friends.

We all have our own favourite character from the different interpretations of Beauty and the Beast whether its two major films - one animated and one live action - and stage productions.

There's the colourful Gaston and Le Fou - his side-kick who are outstanding - notably during the thumping self-homage drinking song.

Tom Senior's finely honed portrayal of Gaston is everything we would expect from the egocentric yet dim heart throb while Louis Stockil's acrobatic Norman Wisdom like Le Fou makes this a balanced double act.

Back in the enchanted cursed castle, team work shines through as we relish the engaging antics of Cogsworth (Nigel Richards) and Lumiere here played by an illuminating Sam Murphy.

The fun friction between the two is relayed wonderfully throughout because these actors look as though they are enjoying every single moment and that is something audiences - especially in Liverpool - lap up.

The song Be Our Guest is given the Busby Berkeley works. I have seen it performed many times in other versions, but this was by far the grandest - a sequence remiscent of the Hollwyood dance numbers that still stand the tests of time for choreograpohic excellence.

Wirral Globe:

Production photograph by Johan Persson © Disney

Mrs Potts (Sam Bailey) and her loveable 'human' tea pot add to the sheer diveristy on stage as does saucy Madame played with gorgeous glee by Samatha Bingley. Beauty and The Beast is timeless.

When you have a show that commands a standing ovation in the first half you know that everyone has pulled out all the stops.

From overture to classy voice-over intro from Angela Landsbury to the final bow, Beauty and The Beast never lets you forget for a moment that you are back in theatre land.

It is what Disney do best and it's just what the world needs right now.

Globe verdict: Sumptious spellbinding spectacle

Five stars

The production is at the Empire until October 16 as part of UK tour.

Tickets from www.beautyandthebeastmusical.co.uk or Empire box office on 08448717615.