BWW Review: Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a Vibrant Storybook Come to Life at Red Mountain Theatre Company
Be our guest.
What happened to you after reading those words? Did you start singing the song? Did you get a flutter in your belly? Did your eyes suddenly see the vibrant colors and characters of the Disney classic? This is the exact same response you will have after leaving Red Mountain Theatre Company's enchanting production of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast." The authentic Disney magic delivered is an impressive feat to walk out of a show with. It is an uplifting production for adults and children. The high quality of creativity took me by the hand and led me through the story as if it was my first time seeing it. The audience is hooked right as the show begins with the music and those four simple words "Once upon a time..."
The iconic music and characters of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" are recognized globally. This presentation however is fresh and full of new experiences inside "this poor provincial town." Belle (Bonny Baker) is a bright and curious young woman who puts herself in harms way to protect her elderly father (Michael Flowers) from the viciousness of a selfish prince cursed with being a monstrous Beast (Ben Neumayer). The only way to break the spell is for him to find someone who will love him in return. Fate intervenes as time passes. They discover that love blooms though kindness and unselfish regard in caring for someone else. Linda Woolverton's book is molded from the Disney animated film. Her story delivers a more endearing tale by going deeper into the emotional layers of the characters. Both children and adults will find strong examples of empathy, courtesy, and courage in this musical.
Bonny Baker provides Belle with a vibrant spirit that exudes the magic of a Disney princess. Her poise and voice give way to storybook perfection. Her poised entrance with book in hand and curious demeanor leads into to a rousing performance of "Belle." Baker brings such bright light to the role that she appears to of come alive from the animation cell itself.
Ben Neumayer gives The Beast a powerful portrayal of a man ravaged with regret and rage. He gives a layered delivery of the role, going from scary, to casually comical and tragically sad. His rich and expressive voice full up the stage. His costume is effectively monstrous while still allowing him to express emotions. An adjustment could be made to raise the amount animalistic physicality of the Beast. That seemed to be lacking in areas.
The brutishly smarmy Gaston (Caleb Clark) flexes each scene with an abundance of cartoonishly exaggerated machismo. Clark gives power to this "love to hate " character with stage presence and a booming baritone packed with bravado.
The enchanted cast is highlighted by the luminescent Lumiere (Samuel Torres) and wound up Cogsworth (Geoff Davin). They light up the stage with energetic comedic delivery. Their chemistry leads to many hilarious moments. Babbete (Kynnedi Porter) fans the laughter as a flirty French feather duster. Madame De La Grande Bouche (Amy Johnson) is a wonderful wardrobe billowing with operatic drawers. Mrs. Potts (Emily Herring) is the maternal tea pot with a voice rich with emotion. Her son Chip (Jamel Cheatam) brings an angelic performance. Gaston's tagalong Lefou (Jared Max Wright) is a bundle of bountiful energy. The ensemble is a show stopping mix of actors who bring fun and much expression to each of the roles.
The iconic music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice are the heart of the show. Music director Aimee Radics leads a full bodied, solid orchestra that gives life to many vibrant production numbers. "Be Our Guest", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Gaston" just to name a few. There are songs in this musical that are not in the original animated film. Henry Scott's choreography brought the house down with applause and awe. The fun and popping moves keeps the energy high throughout the show. Scenic and lightning designer Brad Cozby brings a realistic tone while still capturing the otherworldly storybook elements of the animated film. Director Keith Cromwell delivers an expressive and cast along with a network of moving elements. The smooth transitions are made with impressive precision. The costumes pop and are woven with detail in keeping the story bookish charm. From townspeople, to wolves to dancing plates, the show holds vibrancy as if cell animation has come to life.
The show holds an explosion of color, movement and energetic performances that raises the bar with each performance number. The chemistry is real and the emotions are touching . Red Mountain Theater Company brings you right into this tale as old as time. "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" is a show that you should invite the whole family to be a guest.
Red Mountain Theatre Company
Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Directed by Keith Cromwell
Music director - Aimee Radics
Choreographer - Henry Scott
Scenic and lightning design - Brad Cozby
Production stage manager - Kim Davenport
Belle - Bonny Baker
Beast - Ben Neumayer
Gaston - Caleb Clark
Lumiere - Samuel Torres
Cogsworth - Geoff Davin
Madame De La Grade Bouche - Amy Johnson
Mrs. Potts - Emily Herring
Chip- Jamel Cheatam / Braxton Quinney
Babette - Kynnedi Porter
Lefou - Jared Max Wright
Maurice - Michael Flowers
Monsieur D'Arque - Nick McCarthy
Ensemble - Aidan Alford, Chandler Champion, Michael A. Charles, Emma Cooper, Caroline Game, Marcus Gladney, Emma Claire Harper, Hannah Kuykendall, Sam Purkey, Royzell Walker. Darius Marshall.
Tickets start at $25
June 8th - July 1st
Saturday, June 9, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Saturday, June 9, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 10, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 2:00 PM (Sensory-Friendly Performance)
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Friday, June 15, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 16, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Saturday, June 16, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 17, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Thursday, June 21, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Friday, June 22, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 23, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Saturday, June 23, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 24, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Thursday, June 28, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Friday, June 29, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 30, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Saturday, June 30, 2018 - 7:30 PM
Sunday, July 1, 2018 - 2:00 PM
Red Mountain Theatre Company
The Dorothy Jemison Day Theater at Alabama School of Fine Arts
800 19th Street North Birmingham, AL 35203
Some construction is in the area so be mindful of extra time to park
Photo credit: Stewart Edmonds