BWW Review: DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Lebanon Community Theatre
As a little kid, I was passionate about Disney princesses, being goofy with my family and performing on stage. As I've gotten older, I spend a lot more time at work and grocery shopping and I only talk to my family on the phone about once a week.
Lebanon Community Theatre's production of Beauty and the Beast brought me back to my childhood.
Going into this show - I'm going to be honest - I was not expecting much. Beauty and the Beast, with all its magic and glamour, is not typically a good show choice for a community theater with a less-than Broadway budget. Instead what I got was a totally home-grown production that exuded that same passion for theater and let-yourself-go family time.
The ensemble is made up of primarily young people who made it clear that theater is their life. They had me thinking about times when I'd practice tap dance routines over and over in my living room to the point that my mom would ask me for the love of God to stop. Then I saw adults, who put their grown-up aside for a little while and just let go and had fun.
The ensemble members closest to my heart was the Foley family, who all performed in Beauty and the Beast together, despite parents Stacy and Mark having only ever supported their children behind the scenes. Though the special effects were not top of the line, the magic of this production came from the pure excitement of theater kids and first timers pouring their hearts onto the stage.
That being said, Beauty and the Beast did not succeed solely on ensemble energy. Lead roles were played by hobby actors and theater majors who blew me away with their talent. Faith Brown (Belle) looked like a Belle you'd meet at Disney World. But, when she began to sing, her voice was strong and beautiful and so different to your typical Belle -- it made every song she sang (even the sleeper number 'A Change in Me') an 11 o'clock number.
Another standout was Joshua Heck, who played Lefou, Gaston's sidekick. He nailed the hilarity of the role without being too empty-brained. I enjoyed every second he was on stage. The enchanted objects also surprised, especially when nailing the difficult harmonies in 'Human Again'.
Though at first thought, Beauty and the Beast may not be the best choice for a community production, Lebanon Community Theatre's version totally changed my mind. This tale as old as time is a perfect way to get people involved in theatre and unleash their silly side. And, with a cast as dedicated to telling this story as this one, you don't need all the bells and whistles.
Lebanon Community Theatre's Beauty and the Beast runs until August 10, and tickets can be purchased HERE.