BWW Review: DISNEY BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Candlelight Music Theatre
Candlelight Music Theatre- already the best theatrical value in the state - pulled out all the stops for this captivating production of DISNEY BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Two elements are immediately obvious: the costumes one associates with the popular animated folktale take the stage and Candlelight continues to entice new actors and build their regional footprint. I estimate 75% of this vigorous cast are making their debuts in this funky and atmospheric barn tucked away in sylvan Arden. (The theatre is now close to celebrating their 50th year of producing musical entertainment).
While the story teaches the lesson of 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', the beauty of this production lies in the cast, the set, the costumes, the beautiful melodies and the strength of the singers; truly a romantic fantasy brought to life. Veteran Director Cindy Albertini has assembled a talented and charismatic cast.
Belle (newcomer Natalie Schaffer) is entrancing in her role. The eponymous opening number grabbed the full house on opening night and we all held tight to her spirit, her fearlessness and to her adamant resolve. Gaston (Mitch King), big, boorish and brainless (think Trump on all counts), cannot believe Belle would not fall slavishly at his feet as do the town's 3 'Silly Girls', the charmingly ludicrous Sophie Jones, Anna Ferrigno and Kelsey Hogkiss. While Gaston's wig resembled either the brow of a ship, the head of a whale or a loaf of sourdough bread, his voice was as robust as his ego.
Babette The Feather Duster (Analisa Wall) was the French maid all men between the ages of puberty and death long for. Ooh la la! Et, mais oui, her accent was impeccable aussi.
The Beast (Justin Moore) has performed in leading roles in opera. He had the perfect opportunity to exhibit his chops with the Act 1 close of "If I Can't Love Her". Would that he had sung an encore. He did! He nailed it both times. One wishes he did not scream so much. A guttural growl would have sufficed and evoked the pent-up frustration, foreboding and - may we say - introspection in the Beast's heart. (His roars would be made even more dramatic with a reverb).
Madame de la Grande Bouche (Dianne Fussaro), Luminere (Devon Sinclair), Cogsworth (Patrick Ruegsegger) and Chip (Julia Anderson), the servants transformed into quasi inanimate subjects due to the spell on the Beast, were 'enchanting' in their respective roles and led a rousing production number of "Be Our Guest".
Across the board, the production numbers by the combined talents of Albertini and choreographer Jody Anderson 'charmed' the audience throughout the evening. Music Director Betsy Connor should be given kudos as well. The Mob Song and subsequent attack on the castle were particularly well staged and lit by Mike Cristella.
Timothy Lamont Cannon's costumes and what appeared to be tens of powdered wigs by Clayton Stacey greatly added to this beloved show. Dates have been added. Call now, Aisle Say!
Gorgeous photos by Tisa Della-Volpe
Next Up: New Year's Eve with The Jim Levendis Orchestra featuring vocalist Rosemary Benson
Opening Jan 20: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS