BWW Review: DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Spectacular Spectacle

BWW Review: DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - Spectacular Spectacle

Austin's ZACH Theatre pulls out all the stops to create a spectacular production of the crowd favorite DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

Based on the Academy Award winning animated feature of the same name, DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST live on stage is a must see spectacle. I've actually seen the musical produced three times all at different levels of ability and I must say that ZACH Theatre's production is as close to perfection as it gets. They have the creativity and the technical ability to be able to do justice to the material clearly written for a Broadway style stage. The story of the Beast (Alexander Mendoza) who lives in his enchanted castle; he and his servants suffer under a curse for selfishly refusing hospitality to The Enchantress (Victoria Brown). The fairytale, in one form or another, has been around for thousands of years. My favorite book growing up was The Tasha Tudor Book of Illustrated Fairy Tales which included gorgeous pictures of Beauty And The Beast in lush, bright costumes; this production made my childhood dreams come to life. There's a reason this show resonates so deeply with its audience, it's woven into the fabric of our culture with its themes of selfless love and redemption.

Director Abe Reybold gets every ounce of talent from his superior cast. The effortlessness of scenes made the evening float by like a dream, a difficult feat considering the technical stakes of such a complicated production are indescribably high. Alan Robertson's musical direction is perfection, every cast member and every note is musically flawless. Sara Burke's choreography is brilliant, fun and crisp. Every dance number pays attention to group movement while making certain each cast member moves in character, the result is riveting. Cast standouts include Austin luminary, Martin Burke as Lumiere. It is always a pleasure to watch him in any role, but his joy in playing the valet turned candelabra is evident and magnetic. Alexander Mendoza as Beast has a wonderful physical presence that makes every move captivating. As the bombastic suitor to Belle, Matthew Redden as Gaston is hilariously macho, and Kevin Pellicone as Lefou is his perfect foil. As Belle, Briana Brooks is absolutely stellar; her heroine is sweet but has a backbone of pure steel. Brooks is no cookie cutter Disney princess, she puts forth a character who is no one's victim. I must now discuss the true star of the show, ZACH's technical theatre department. Lighting designed by Michelle Habeck is a work of art. The use of color, haze, fog and moving lighting units is outstanding, it thrills my theatre tech heart when illumination is such an indispensable part of the story. Susan Branch Towne's costume design is simply inspired. I had the pleasure of attending this performance with my 10 year old granddaughter who became fascinated by the subtle addition of tiny details on the costumes as the play progressed. Each time an actor entered she would squeal with delight having discovered a costuming addition that meant the characters were becoming less human with each passing moment. This creates a secret between Towne and the audience giving deeper meaning and intensifying the urgency the Beast and his servants feel. Last but certainly not least, the set design by Court Watson is straight out of a dream. A huge, moving, Gothic castle that has several levels, must be seen to be appreciated. No detail has been overlooked, enhancing every scene with fantasy and a touch of whimsy, Watson's design is spectacular. Put it all together and I don't believe you could see a production of this caliber anywhere but Broadway itself.

If you want to beat the heatwave roasting Austin this summer, treat yourself to DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at ZACH Theatre, take the whole family, I promise you will enjoy every moment.

DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Music by Alan Menken

Lyrics by Howard Ashman and a Tim Rice

Book by Linda Woolverton

Directed by Abe Reybold

Music direction by Alan Robertson

Choreographed by Sara Burke

ZACH Theatre, Topfer Stage

July 11 - September 2

Running Time: 2.5 hours with one 20 minute intermission

Tickets: $30 - $85, zachtheatre.org



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From This Author Lynn Beaver

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