BWW Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Paper Mill Playhouse Thrills
Paper Mill Playhouse closes their 2018/2019 Season with a dazzling production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, The Broadway Musical. Whether it's the first time you have seen the fairy tale classic or you want to see it again, you will be thrilled by this elaborate musical with its clever touches. We attended the opening night performance and the audience was wowed. The show enjoys brilliant direction by the Playhouse's Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee, spirited choreographies by Alex Sanchez, the finest musical direction by Michael Borth, and a magnificent set. The superb cast brings all of the adventure, romance, and humor of the magical story to life on the Millburn stage. See it now through July 3.
Beauty and the Beast features music my Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton. It was adapted from Disney's Academy Award-winning 1991 musical film by the same name. The Tony-Award winner premiered on Broadway in 1994 and ran for thirteen consecutive years until 2007. The show has since been an international hit that has played to over 35 million theatergoers in 13 countries.
Indulge your imagination in this beloved tale with its colorful characters. It brings together a lovely maiden, her eccentric father, a brutish suitor, provincial townspeople, a frightening beast, a mystical spell, and an enchanted castle where the household items are full of spirit and personality. The dynamic story tells of hope and the ability to be transformed by love.
Belinda Allyn is completely charming as Belle and she also captures the dramatic moments that her role demands. Tally Sessions is perfect as the seemingly dreadful beast that is longing for love. Stephen Mark Lukas is outstanding in the role of roguish and vain Gaston. You'll be totally amused by the antics of Kevin Curtis as Lefou, Gavin Lee as Lumiere, Kevin Ligon as Cogsworth, Donna English as Madame de la Grande Bouche, and Jenelle Chu as Babette. Joel Blum is ideal as the unconventional inventor and Belle's dedicated father, Maurice. Stacia Fernandez is heartwarming in the part of Mrs. Potts as she cares for her adorable son, Chip played by Gianni David Farulo with Antonio Watson alternating in the role.
The talented ensemble features Joe Bigelow, Monica Cioffi, Brittany Conigatti, Justin DeParis, Stephen DiBiase, Jennifer Evans, Annie Gagen, David Michael Garry, Lauren E.J. Hamilton, Leeds Hill, Brett Michael Lockley, Michael Milkanin, Corinne Munsch,Brett Pederson, Alexa Racioppi, Taylor Rosenberger, Molly Rushing, Bronwyn Tarboton, Matthew Vincent Taylor, and Cynthia Thorne.
The musical performances and dance sequences are a treat from the opening song, "Belle" to the grand finale "Beauty and the Beast." Some of the wonderfully performed numbers include "No Matter What," by Maurice and Belle; "Home" by Belle; "Gaston" by Lefou, Gaston, Silly Girls, and Tavern Patrons; "Be Our Guest" by Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Cogsworth, Madame de la Grande Bouche, Chip Babbette, and Enchanted Objects; "If I Can't Love Her by Beast; "A Change in Me" by Belle; "The Battle" by Company; and "Transformation" by Beast and Belle.
The production team has created stunning design elements. They include scenic design by Kelly James Tighe; costume design by Leon Dobkowski; lighting design by Charlie Morrison; sound design by Matt Kraus; hair and wig design by Leah J. Loukas; makeup design by Dena Olivieri; and fight direction by Rick Sordelet and Christian Kelly-Sordelet. The production stage manager is Andrea Cibelli. Casting by Telsey + Company, Rebecca Scholl, CSA.
Happily ever after is what everyone needs to experience. Gather your group, make it a date night or bring the whole family. Beauty and the Beast, The Broadway Musical is a show that shouldn't be missed.
Paper Mill Playhouse is located at 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ. For tickets to Beauty and the Beast, The Musical, information and subscriptions to the 2019/2020 season, visit their web site at https://papermill.org/ or call 973.376.4343.
Photo Credit: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade and Jerry Dalia