BWW Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at The Gateway
The Gateway conjured pure holiday magic with their recent production of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," hosted by The Patchogue Theatre.
Long Islanders have come to expect nothing but Broadway quality from this theatre and this production met those standards with breathtaking costumes, an imaginative and dynamic set, and a cast of seasoned professionals.
Emily Behny's Belle is a heroine for the modern Disney fan. Making the role her own, she utilizes her comic timing and impresses with a voice that soared across the large theatre. Many young theatre-goers - many dressed in mini yellow ballgowns in honor of their favorite princess - watched her with awe around me.
Loren Christopher as the titular Beast also added some comedy to his character with unique deliveries of lines that don't usually garner laughs, especially when expressing his frustration in asking - or rather forcing - Belle to join him for dinner. Additionally, his performance of "If I Can't Love Her" - the powerful conclusion to Act I that was sorely missed by fans in Disney's live action adaptation of the film - was sensational.
And stomping around as the villain we love to hate, Gaston, Joe Hager was perfectly on key balancing menace with comedy. Equally entertaining and skilled was Courtier Simmons as Gaston's sidekick, LeFou, who leads the wildly entertaining and well-choreographed number "Gaston."
The production also featured a talented featured ensemble of the castle's former servants turned objects - Lumiere (Jonathan Hadley), Cogsworth (Robert Anthony Jones), Babette (Courtney Echols), Mrs. Potts (Teri Hansen), Chip (Marty Timlin), and Madame de la Grande Bouche (Roxy York).
Although Ms. York's role is relatively small in the grand scheme of the musical, she steals every scene she is in and brought a layer of tongue-in-cheek comedy that truly made her stand out - along with her enormous costume.
Adding to the magic were special effects and makeup to transform Mr. Christopher into the hideous Beast, created by Ricky Vitus. The combination of practical effects and projections was unique and exciting to see on stage.
Although this production has closed, be sure to keep up with Gateway's 2019 productions, which are sure to be exceedingly entertaining if this production is any indication.
Always a crowd-pleaser, Menopause The Musical opens on January 18. Tickets and information are available here.