BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Book by Linda Woolverton
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice
Originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions
North Texas Performing Arts Repertory Theatre
Director – Daniel Dean Miranda
Assistant Director Kimberly Oliver
Choreographer – DeeDee Munson
Music Director – Bethany Lorentzen
Stage Manager – Jessica Stevens
Production Assistant – Shanti Shahani de Venegas
Set Design – Tobin Griffin
Lighting Design – Gregory McKnight
Sound Design – Don Melton
Costumes – Cathy Secrest and Lisa Rodenbaugh
Props – Judit Gillespie and Lisa Rodenbaugh
Cast of reviewed performance:
Beast: Kris Allen
Belle: Alexis Bruza
Gaston: Danny Memmott
Mrs. Potts: Susan Carter
Lumiere: Evan Anderson
Cogsworth: Jonathan Sieders
Maurice: Paul Burnam
Madame de la Grande Bouche: Brianna Clancy
LeFou: Ryan Scott
Silly Girls: Emily Kate Ivey, Ellyn Glasscock Synek, Roxi Taylor
Babette: Hilary Allen
Darque: Joseph Burnam
Chip: Andrei Venegas
Ensemble: Jake Kerstine, Donovan Marie Lawson, Jonathan Rizzo, Will Shafer, Dalton Walker, Nychelle Winters
Reviewed Performance: 6/22/2019
Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
This tale as old as time, straight from the Disney vault, was a beautiful production, presented on the small stage of North Texas Performing Arts. Director Daniel Dean Miranda used every bit of the stage and didn’t stop there. His use of the aisles brought the action to the audience. There were a few technical issues, but overall it was an enjoyable evening.
Alexis Bruza, as Belle, was enchanting. She is indeed a beauty, and moved about the stage with style and grace. Her emotions were varied and believable, her dancing seemed effortless, and her singing was divine. On a personal note, she was positively charming with my 8-year old companion before the show, which was a highlight of our “girls’ night out”.
As the Beast, Kris Allen was superb. He managed to combine his delightful voice with the awkward body of the beast, with an artistry and depth of character that was a thing of beauty. He displayed passionate, sincere emotions, and his heartfelt solo, If I Can’t Love Her, was one of the highlights of the evening. Having seen Allen perform before, I didn’t recognize his voice, which indicates there was some type manipulation to make him more beastly.
Gaston, portrayed by Danny Memmott, was the boorish macho man we all love to hate. He was deliciously self-centered and full of pride, but yet vulnerable. He had a nice voice and delivered his lines well. His sidekick, LeFou (Ryan Scott), was a wonderful flunky, hungry enough for approval to do Gaston’s more distasteful chores.
Paul Burnam, as Maurice, was the doting father who wasn’t intimidated by the opinions of others. He displayed a love for Belle that was a real as my own father’s love for me. He was perfectly quirky and delightful.
Mrs. Potts, brought to life by Susan Carter, was a textbook mother, caring for others when she had her own problems. Kind and sincere, she did everything she could to help the Beast win Belle’s heart.
Lumiere and Cogsworth, played by Evan Anderson and Jonathan Sieders, had a wonderful love-hate relationship. Each thought the other to be absolutely unbearable, but knew they needed each other. Cogsworth’s stuffiness and Lumiere’s affable personality were a fun combination.
Rounding out the household staff were Brianna Clancy as Madame de la Grande Bouche, and Hilary Allen as Babette. Madame was beautifully vain, and Babette’s fondness for Lumiere was no secret. Both Clancy and Allen did a fantastic job.
Sound Designer Don Melton had his work cut out for him. There apparently weren’t enough mics to distribute to the entire cast which caused a lack of balance between voices. Some were almost loud enough to be painful, and others were barely understandable. It was unfortunate that there was no area mic to pick up the company members who did not have body mics. When there was singing without amplification, the tracks almost covered the vocals entirely. Balance issues aside, the choice of pre-show and intermission music was a fun medley of show tunes that had some audience members humming along.
DeeDee Munson’s choreography was delightful. The group numbers were well-timed, and the solos were tailored to the dancers' individual abilities. It was a joy to watch.
Music Director Bethany Lorentzen had a beautiful group of voices to work with, and she brought out the best in them. The voices were lovely and blended well, except for the sound problems.
Tobin Griffin’s set was simply elegant. A few large pieces were manipulated in various combinations and worked well to form the different locations. There were a few technical issues with the backstage crew, which were noticeable but easily fixed.
The lights, designed by Gregory McKnight, were a fitting accompaniment to guide the viewer and set the tone. Cathy Secrest and Lisa Rodenbaugh’s costumes and Judit Gillespie and Lisa Rodenbaugh’s props were lovely and blended well with the rest of the production.
In spite of the technical issues, it was a fun, family friendly show. There were a few moments that were a bit scary for the younger audience members, but my young companion’s introduction to live theatre was delightful and left her hungry for more.
Beauty and the Beast runs through July 7 at North Texas Performing Arts.
For more information or to purchase tickets go to http://northtexasperformingarts.org.