BWW Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre Presents BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Happily ever after is a wondrous place to be ~ as fine a sensation as you'll feel when the last rose petal falls in Arizona Broadway Theatre's captivating and spirited production of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
The fairy tale romance of Belle and the Prince who is trapped in the body of a beast is all too well known to be repeated here. To wit, the musical on stage and on film is having a commercial heyday!
Nor is it necessary to remind you of its everlasting and universal theme, proclaimed in another classic song ~ that "the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." True love requires reciprocity!
What I want to emphasize here is Clayton Phillips's astute directorial choice to let the story be told without the intrusion of overwhelming special effects.
Paul Black's sets look like they've been plucked out of the pages of an old story book, simple but elegant cutouts of village life and a daunting castle.
As big a venue as ABT is, the show radiates with intimacy and charm, thanks to standout performances by Jill-Christine Wiley as Belle and Tony Edgerton as Beast.
A marvelous supporting cast infuses the tale with gaiety and whimsy. TJ Nelson flexes his talent as well as his muscles as the narcissistic Gaston, the persistent pursuer of Belle's affection. Jon Gentry is grand as Maurice, Belle's eccentric father. As Beast's servants who have been turned into household objects, Ben Stasny (Lumière, a candelabra), Zachary Spiegel (Cogsworth, a clock, Melissa Jones (Babette, a feather duster), Gerri Weagraff (Mrs. Potts, a tea pot, and Corban Adams (Chip, a teacup) conspire to deliver a delicious dose of fantasy and fun to the castle drama.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will complete its run at ABT's home venue in Peoria on July 2nd after which it will be featured at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix from July 7th through the 16th.
Photo credit to ABT Marketing Department