BWW Review: DISNEY BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Maltz Jupiter Theatre
Photo: A completely re-envisioned version of the smash hit Broadway musical Disney Beauty and the Beast is dazzling audiences at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through December 16. Pictured is Danielle Bowen as Belle. Photo by Zak Bennett.
A theatre-goer might think to themselves, I've seen Disney Beauty and the Beast, but Maltz Jupiter Theatre created a new twist on our old favorite through the magic of puppetry. This new and innovative collaboration married the technical and performance aspects of the theatre arts with pure magic. From the abstract archway that evoked imagery of the rose briar, magic mirror, and even antlers in Gaston's decorating to Zach Nadolski's gorgeous solo as the beast, there was artistry and beauty in all aspects of the show.
Under the direction of John Tartaglia (Lumiére in Disney Beauty and the Beast and originating the role of Pinocchio in Shrek the Musical), this generous cast brought new life to the show quite literally. Each actor prepared for both their role or roles, a majority of them also serving as puppeteers bringing life to the characters turned into inanimate objects. Brendan Malafronte, who played Lumiére, said he had to translate previously playing the role with his full range of motion on a cruise line, into gestures and movements that would read through his stick puppet. His puppet, and all the amazing and original puppets were designed by Eric Wright of Puppet Kitchen International. All of the enchanted objects were brought to life through unique and charming puppets - each with their own personality and different mechanisms, and the number "Be Our Guest" was a feast for the eyes as the stage literally burst with dancing puppets.
Adam Koch's scenic design generated both the intimate space of Belle's guest room in the Beast's castle and the enormous library that aids in Belle's admiration of the Beast. The grand candlelight archway was the perfect backdrop to suggest the ballroom and all the transitions in location were flawless. Not to be outdone, lighting designer Rob Denton used color to both focus the attention back to the story, enhanced moods and created diversions. The costumes by Ashley Rose Horton were suggestive of the Disney film, but boasted their own unique designs. The silly girls set apart from the townspeople by floral prints was a nice touch and the shift from dark colors when the actors were playing the puppet (object) versions of themselves to the brights when they became human again was brilliant.
Shannon Lewis' choreography kept up with the lively music by Alan Menken; with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, as the actors, actors as puppeteers, and puppets swirled around the space. Gaston's number was especially memorable because it both stayed true to the film and was original at the same time, so much fun to watch! Helen Gregory is an amazing music director and the Maltz Jupiter Theatre is lucky to have her. The captivating cast brought Broadway quality theatre to Jupiter, Florida. Anna McNeely brought fun and humor to Madame de la Grande Bouche. Laura Turnbull's interpretation of Mrs. Potts demonstrated the character's kind and supportive nature. Her interactions with young actor Evan Levi Barron as Chip were charming and served as a constant reminder of the need to break the spell cast over the Beast and his staff. Danielle Bowen was perfectly cast to play the bookish, captivating Belle. Her moments with Ray DeMattis as her father Maurice were a reminder of the importance of family. A truly unique production, everyone should bring their friends and family to see the Maltz Jupiter Theatre production of Disney Beauty and the Beast!
Get your tickets before the show closes December 16th!
Disney Beauty and the Beast is sponsored by the Admiral's Cove Foundation. Single Tickets start at $60. For tickets and showtimes, call (561) 575-2223 or visit www.jupitertheatre.org. For more information on bringing your group to the Theatre, contact community relationships ambassador Cheryl McDermott at (561) 972-6117.
About the Maltz Jupiter Theatre
The not-for-profit Maltz Jupiter Theatre has become one of Florida's preeminent professional theatres, committed to production and education through its collaborations with local and national artists. Currently the state's largest award-winning regional theatre, the Theatre draws 100,000 people annually, serves a subscription base of more than 8,560 and has world-class classroom facilities in support of its Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts, which serves hundreds of youth and adults. The theatre is a member of the prestigious League of Resident Theatres and has earned numerous Carbonell Awards, South Florida's highest honor for artistic excellence, including the prestigious Bill Von Maurer Award for Theatrical Excellence. For more information about the Theatre's upcoming shows and Conservatory, visit www.jupitertheatre.org or call the box office at (561) 575-2223.
Additional Photo Credit: Jason Nuttle