Review: DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at the John W. Engeman Theatre

The production runs through December 31st.

By: Nov. 25, 2023
Review: DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at the John W. Engeman Theatre
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Northport's John W. Engeman Theatre offers a sensational incarnation of Disney's Beauty And The Beast this holiday season. Some may call this a "tourist trap", but you will find that the story is as relevant as ever. Based on the 1991 Oscar-winning animated movie, this production, masterfully directed by Engeman vet Drew Humphrey, runs through December 31st at the exquisite Long Island venue.

As we know, this "tale as old as time" centers on Belle; true to herself even when her fellow townspeople perceive her as odd. This leads her (almost) into trouble when she meets the Beast who is under a spell bestowed on him and his household by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved by the time the last petal falls on the rose, the curse will be lifted.

Belle is bookish, has a lovable, semi-eccentric inventor for a father, and she's a dreamer yearning for more than her provincial town life. Daniela Rodrigo makes a stellar Belle performing classic Alan Menken/Howard Ashman/Tim Rice score flawlessly and well emulating Belle's head-strong demeanor. A high point is the collective gasp on Ms. Rodrigo's entrance for the famous ballroom dance scene with the most stunning yellow dress (see picture above). Dustin Cross certainly outdid himself on this gorgeous piece as well as the rest of the brilliant costumes in the production.

Ms. Rodrigo makes a great team with Joe Caskey who superbly portrays the Beast. Mr. Caskey's depiction of the angst-ridden monster is excellent. The Beast knows that he must do something to win Belle over as time is dangerously running out on the rose. Mr. Caskey's costume is also stellar and very striking among John Burkland's eerie lighting design. After all, the story is set in a dark and dingy castle that is under a spell. Indeed an additional highlight - and certainly an audience favorite - is Caitlin Burke's brilliant performance - in the role of Mrs. Potts - of the show's title song. Additionally, Johnathan Cobrda as Lumiere and Robert Anthony Jones as Cogsworth are a hysterical duo. Truth be told, the entire company is truly outstanding.

Also on Mr. Humphrey's clever creative team is Music Director Nick Wilders who masterfully heads up the fantastic live orchestra. The set, designed by Engeman vet Kyle Dixon, is well done with seamless scene changes. And, a special kudos to Mandy Modic on the excellent choreography. It is apparent that everyone is thoroughly enjoying their time in this production.

And so, Disney's Beauty And The Beast is certainly a hit for the John W. Engeman Theatre this season. A classic story and remarkable cast make for a thrilling night of theatre.

Photo courtesy of the John W. Engeman Theatre




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