CHATHAM – After fairy-story Globe Inform heroine Belle will become captive in a fortress with a surly man-beast and an on-foot/talking clock, candelabra, and teapot, she feedbacks that the location is enchanted. The clock and candlestick accuse each different of spilling the beans. But Belle assures them she figured it out herself.
Chatham Drama Guild’s production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” is alternatively like that: At some point, you’ll in all likelihood just realize you’re enchanted.
Maybe you’ll succumb right away to this “story as vintage as time” (to borrow lyrics from the haunting title music) about true Beauty residing on the inside, inside someone’s heart and soul.
It starts whilst a boastful prince (Todd Yates Gosselin) turns an antique beggar woman (Ana Claire Tecca) away on a chilly iciness night time, and he or she – is a twirl of her enchantress’ cape – retaliates through casting a spell on him (turning him into a beast) and the fort. She leaves behind a red rose, a paranormal mirror, and a sliver of desire: He can ruin the spell if he can discover ways to love someone and win their love in return earlier than the remaining petal falls from the rose.
Or Perhaps the enchantment will manifest when you first see and listen to the adorable Rebecca Banas, gambling Belle for the third time at a community theater. She’s spunky and brilliant – in a demure type of way – and her singing voice resembles her man or woman’s name: a bell sounding genuine, clear, and sweet. We meet her in the musical number “Belle,” where she walks round along with her nose in an e-book, her head in the clouds, whilst the human beings of her provincial French city sing about how unusual she is.
If the way for your coronary heart lies thru your humorous bone, Levane Harrington’s turn as Gaston, the village’s boorish, useless, muscle-flexing heartthrob, may seal the deal. Gaston is set on marrying Belle due to the fact she’s the prettiest female in town. “We shall be the ideal pair – as an alternative like my thighs,” he tells her and concludes his notion via asking, “Is it sure? Or is it ‘Oh, yes!’?” – as might be uttered in the throes of ardor.
Needless to say, Belle isn’t inspired. But you – and simply any youngsters you’ve got in tow – will definitely fall for the enchanted family objects she encounters on the castle.
But allow’s again up a second. She goes to the citadel because her eccentric father, Maurice (the lovable Joseph Theroux), is being held prisoner there. Spotting a rare possibility of breaking the spell, the Beast accepts her noble ability to take her father’s vicinity. Even as the Beast is frightening, Belle speedy reveals friends in the unusual servants.
That’s one of few variations between the musical degree display and the 1991 Disney blockbuster that stimulated it. Within the movie, the servants have long in the past ceased to be people. It changed into smooth sufficient – through the magic of animation – to have gadgets sing and dance. That approach being restrictive for theater, the answer becomes to have the transformation in the procedure. This is surely greater poignant – having their humanity slipping away – and heightens the feel of urgency for the spell to be broken.
Director Pam Banas and Jeff Spencer waxed very innovatively in developing the group of workers’ costumes, and Banas actually deserves credit for helping them discover their personalities. She herself performs the wardrobe, the gracious Madame de la Grande Bouche, with the “bureau” she wears giving an entirely new, “wood” performance. In one of the display’s most scrumptious moments, she pulls a get dressed out of her personal top drawer.
Geof Newton is delightful as the valet, Lumière, a debonair candelabra whose palms now terminate in stubby candles. Robert Shire is equally excellent as Cogsworth, the top of the castle. He has become a mantel clock with Roman numerals on his face – charming even though, as he admits, “tightly wound.” These two play properly together, making the most in their odd-couple dating. Lumière also has a flirtation with the saucy maid Babette (Ellen Birmingham), who’s turning into a feather duster. This has its risks. She dangers being burnt; her feathers make him sneeze.
Similarly, Delane Moser may be lovely and motherly because he prepares dinner, Mrs. Potts, who turns into a teapot. Her left arm is already a spout. Her right – even as nonetheless armlike – is fixed akimbo like a manage. Her younger son, Chip (10-year-old Alexis Arruda), has grown to be a chipped teacup. All that’s left is his (in reality her) expressive face, embedded within the side of the cup.
Then, of direction, there’s Gosselin, playing the Beast contrary Rebecca Banas for the 1/3 time. Corresponding to a buffalo head with a tiger’s tooth, his mask cover almost his whole head. He conveys a large feeling, although, simply thru his actions and amazing voice (even singing some things full of longing like “If I’m able to’t Love Her”). Deep and sturdy, it’s like Darth Vader without the mechanical sounds. Gosselin’s Beast is pretty fierce. However, he mellows engagingly as Belle touches his heart.
Once Belle and the Beast start to fall in love, the enchantment is irresistible. I saw Banas and Gosselin all through their first cross as Splendor and the Beast at the Academy of Performing Arts in Orleans in 2005, and the chemistry was simple. It turns out they have been courting on time. Then they were given married. Then divorced. So we understand lifestyles don’t usually have storybook endings. The onstage magic, though, is actually nevertheless there.
Chatham Drama Guild is fortunate to have piano accompaniment via musical director Schwab, whose credentials include working with Ken Burns. I had the privilege of sitting where I may want to watch her palms flying over the keyboard. Perhaps it changed into my proximity to the piano, which made a few singing difficult to listen to. But such changed into the case.
Designed using Scott Hamilton, the set representing the castle’s interior is stunning, particularly with a large arched window as its centerpiece. There’s also an amazingly expansive painted backdrop of the fortress library.
This manufacturing – already so suitable (though with that sure network theater unevenness about it) – must handiest get higher with time. Like super casting, it has warmth, a brilliant experience of amusing and fantastic electricity on ensemble numbers like “Be Our Visitor” and “something There.” And while Banas comes out sporting Belle’s famous yellow, off-the-shoulder robe, youngsters ought to don’t have any hassle believing she’s the fairy-tale princess in their desires.