BWW Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Enchants at Playhouse Merced
The beloved "tale as old as time" plays to sold out audiences at the intimate, but sparkling family atmosphere of Playhouse Merced now through December 11.
A lively cast gives this "Beauty and the Beast" its enchanting and often comical quality. Rachel Pearre is a picture-perfect Belle, straight out of one of Belle's own storybooks. Her Beast, Stephen Mouillesseaux, struggles to find what is left of his humanity in his heart-felt and beautifully sung "If I Can't Love Her." Magical clocks (RC Essig), engaging candelabras (Robert Hypes), and motherly teapots (Alicia Bohlke) live in the Beast's bewitching castle, while the handsome and vain Gaston (Wesley Vasquez) plots to storm the palace and make Belle his wife. Vasquez knows how to ham it up for the audience, and his surly voice comes straight from the film. He and sidesplitting sidekick Lefou (the hysterical Henry Flores) steal the show with their priceless slapstick humor. Hype's seductive Lumiere and Essig's tight-wound Cogsworth also work the audience for much appreciated laughter.
Large production numbers including "Be Our Guest" and "Gaston" are also a great deal of fun thanks to an enthusiastic ensemble, some beer steins and a bubble machine. And Merced's creative team provides pleasant surprises in inventive staging of the musical's overarching narrative and finale.
Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Through December 11
at Playhouse Merced