Review Roundup: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Paper Mill Playhouse; What Did The Critics Think?

Review Roundup: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Paper Mill Playhouse; What Did The Critics Think?Paper Mill Playhouse's Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Disney's Beauty and the Beast with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton is now on stage!

Directed by Mark S. Hoebee, with choreography by Alex Sanchez and music direction by Michael Borth, the principal cast features Belinda Allyn (Paper Mill's West Side Story) as Belle, Joel Blum (Show Boat) as Maurice,Jenelle Chu (Bernhardt/Hamlet) as Babette, Kevin Curtis (Paper Mill's A Chorus Line) as Lefou, Donna English (Paper Mill's Lend Me a Tenor)as Madame de la Grande Bouche, Stacia Fernandez (Paper Mill's Bandstand) as Mrs. Potts, Gavin Lee (SpongeBob SquarePants) as Lumiere,Kevin Ligon (Hello Dolly!) as Cogsworth, Stephen Mark Lukas (The Book of Morman) as Gaston, Tally Sessions (Paper Mill's South Pacific) as The Beast, with Gianni David Faruolo (Fun Home) and Antonio Watson (This Ain't No Disco) alternating in the role of Chip. They will be joined by Joe Bigelow, Monica Cioffi, Brittany Conigatti, Justin DeParis, Stephen DiBiase, Jennifer Evans, Annie Gagen, David Michael Garry, Leeds Hill, Brett Michael Lockley, Michael Milkanin, Corinne Munsch, Brett Pederson, Alexa Racioppi, Taylor Rosenberger, Molly Rushing, Bronwyn Tarboton, Matthew Vincent Taylor, and Cynthia Thorne.

Singing teapots and candlesticks, an evil spell, and an unlikely love story are all part of the magic of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, an international sensation that has played to more than 35 million people in 13 countries. Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature, the stage production includes all of the original songs from the movie by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, plus additional gems by Menken and Tim Rice. The whole family will be enchanted by this gorgeous production, featuring stunning costumes and sets, spectacular dance numbers, and, of course, a fairy-tale ending.

The production team includes scenic design by Kelly James Tighe, costume design by Leon Dobkowski, lighting design by Charlie Morrison, sound design by Matt Kraus, hair and wig design by Leah J. Loukas, makeup design by Dena Olivieri, and fight direction by Rick Sordeletand ChristIan Kelly-Sordelet.The production stage manager is Andrea Cibelli. Casting by Telsey + Company, Rebecca Scholl, CSA.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast begins performances Wednesday, May 29, 2019, at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ). Due to popular demand, four performances have been added to the performance schedule. The limited engagement will now conclude Wednesday evening, July 3, 2019, at 7:00pm. Paper Mill Playhouse will also present an autism-friendly performance of Disney's Beauty and the Beast on Wednesday, June 26, at 1:30pm. This performance is designed specifically for people on the autism spectrum or with other developmental disabilities and their families. The Goren Family & Harmony Helper and Merck are the Major Sponsors of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Paper Mill Playhouse's 2018-2019 season is proudly sponsored by Investors Bank. Opening Night is set for Sunday, June 2, 2019, at 7:00pm.

Tickets for Disney's Beauty and the Beast may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org. All major credit cards accepted. Groups of 10 or more may receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680. Season subscriptions are on sale now and are available by calling 973.379.3717. Students may order $23-$28 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance.

Let's see what the critics think!

Marina Kennedy, BroadwayWorld: Belinda Allyn is completely charming as Belle and she also captures the dramatic moments that her role demands. Tally Sessions is perfect as the seemingly dreadful beast that is longing for love. Stephen Mark Lukas is outstanding in the role of roguish and vain Gaston. You'll be totally amused by the antics of Kevin Curtis as Lefou, Gavin Lee as Lumiere, Kevin Ligon as Cogsworth, Donna English as Madame de la Grande Bouche, and Jenelle Chu as Babette. Joel Blum is ideal as the unconventional inventor and Belle's dedicated father, Maurice. Stacia Fernandez is heartwarming in the part of Mrs. Potts as she cares for her adorable son, Chip played by Gianni David Farulo with Antonio Watson alternating in the role.

Ryan Leeds, Broadway Blog: Director Mark S. Hoebee transferred these same elements to the Paper Mill stage. Hoebee knows the shows well, having been a cast member in the original Broadway company. His personal attachment to the material is a huge asset. With help from stalwart casting agents Telsey and Company, they've assembled a first-rate cast with marvelous chemistry.

Jay Lustig, NJ Arts: But this is still a big, dazzling production, with lots of moving pieces that director Mark S. Hoebee (also the Paper Mill's producing artistic director) meshes together with flawless precision. The score is filled with memorable songs (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice), and the featured actors all give winning performances. There is even got a magic trick that will leave you scratching your head in wonder.

Jim Beckerman, North Jersey Record: That the antics of Gavin Lee as that suave lady-killer Lumiere, Kevin Ligon as the fussy clock Cogsworth, Janelle Chu as the flirtatious feather-duster Babette, Donna English as the diva of a wardrobe, be delightful? They are. That Stacia Fernandez, as the maternal Mrs. Potts, sing the title song touchingly? That Joel Blum, as the eccentric father, be lovable? That Stephen Mark Lukas, as that overdeveloped, overbearing lunkhead Gaston, be loathsome?

Liz Keill, Tap Into: Mark S. Hoebee has directed this tale with an eye to rapid movement, visual delights and chorus, aided by choreographer Alex Sanchez. It isn't clear why there are dancing girls in the mix, when most of the actors have costumes representing silverware and plates. Still, costume design by Leon Dobkowski, lighting by Charlie Morrison and scenic design by Kelly James Tighe enhance the dreamlike world of this tale. Yet some of those effects are overdone, such as the stage surrounded by extra lights during the final dance with Belle and the prince. A subtle, romantic aura would have sustained a sense of wonder in this tender story. Michael Borth is music director of the delicious music and lyrics.

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