BEAUTY AND THE BEASTMusic by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice
Book by Linda Woolverton
Originally Directed by Robert Jess Roth
Originally Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions
Granbury Theatre Company
Director – Jay Lewis
Asst Director – Jeff Meador
Music Director – Greg Doss
Technical Director – Kalani Morrissette
Choreographer – Domanick Anton Hubbard
Fight Choreographer – Luke Hunt
Stage Manager – Cessany Ford
Scenic Design – Kerri Pavelick
Sound Design – Kyle Hoffman
Lighting Design – Cameron Burrus
Makeup Design – Maria Bautista
Prosthetics Design – G. Aaron Siler
Belle – Cheyenne Shreve
Beast – Nathan Early
Gaston – Cody Jenkins
LeFou – JD Choate
Maurice – Greg Doss
Lumiere – Andrew Bullard
Cogsworth – Brian Lawson
Mrs. Potts – Emily Warwick
Chip – Brylea Hyde/Savannah Solsbery/Travis Trimble
Madame de la Grande Bouche – Ashley Green
Babette – Jadie Phelps
Monsieur D'Arque – Mickey Shearon
Narrator – Michael Drake
Dance Corps – Eden Burrus, Nicole Carrano, Kristen Cox, Brittany Jenkins, Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis, Taylor Ray Donaldson, Christian Lopez, David Midkiff, Nolan Moralez, Emmie Vaughn, Stephanie Simmons
Dance Ensemble – Katelyn Anderson, Reilly Kaye Anderson, Hannah Baker, Caitlynn Bonnet, Cassie Jacobs, Tiffany Trimble, Victoria Trimble
Ensemble – A. Solomon Abah Jr., Kevin Baum, Katrice Johnson, Ethan Leake, Bradley McKinney, Cody John Mullican, Michelle Newman, Jade Reneau, Hannah Swaim, Colby Trinkle
Children's Ensemble – Kailey Brooks-Mayeux, Grace Burdick, Lilly Davis, Berklee Heil, Anna Kemper, Eva Keisler, Hayden Lee, Elijah MacWhitney, Nash Reading, Demi Roman, Devyn Roman, Aubrey Ward.
Reviewed Performance: 11/18/2017
Reviewed by Richard P. Buswold, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
This show has some intense production numbers. Opening with the 'Belle/No Matter What' mashup that covers the first several minutes of the show to 'Gaston' and then the elaborate and iconic 'Be our Guest' that has the ability to stop the show, BatB is monumental undertaking for any theatre company let alone a small community theatre in small-town Texas. Luckily, GTC has the talent in Mr. Hubbard to make 40 people flow easily and beautifully on a relatively small stage. Many modern musicals don’t have a chorus or if they do, it is usually small and can best be described as ‘back up dancers.’ BatB has a full-blown chorus reminiscent or the grand Lerner & Lowe or Rogers & Hammerstein productions of the ’50s and ’60s. Granted, there were problems like one particular dancer stumbling and sprawling out flat on the stage, but much to her credit, she jumped right back up and continued without missing nary a beat.
All the songs were expertly sung and not once did I hear an off note or flub of the lyrics. Nathan Early as the Beast was big, loud and powerful every time he opened his mouth to sing. His speaking voice did not, however, lead me to believe he was a menacing beast but rather an angry dad and his face got lost in his costume. He looked like a large ball of hair with fangs. I loved to hear him sing. He did the songs justice with the emotion needed. When he sang 'If I Can't Love Her' at the end of act one, it was moving.
Cheyenne Shreve returns to GTC from Tarleton State University. In fact, seven cast members, including Mr. Early, either have or are pursuing performance degrees at Tarleton. She seemed to start her song, ‘Belle’ with a little hesitation but every note was perfect and every syllable was clear. Her performance was as solid as Gibraltar and made for an exceptional evening. The problem with the opening was in the tech. Mics cut out or were not turned on in the plethora of the single lines that the villagers have in that song. Simple glitch with a simple fix that should remedy itself with a little bit of time and some polishes in rehearsal.
BatB is inherently good. How wrong can you go with a beloved Disney show featuring award winning songs. That being said, it is the onstage talent that truly shines in this production. Cody Jenkins and JD Choate, both extremely talented singers and actors, were beautifully paired as Gaston and Lefou respectively. Unfortunately, Choate is actually bigger on stage than Jenkins... physically. Jenkins is scrawny and looks kind of ridiculous trying to be what we have come to expect to see as the overbearing brute that is Gaston.
The real standout for me was Andrew Bullard as Lumiere. Absolutely bloody hysterical. Foil to Brian Lawson's perfectly pompous Cogsworth and humorously flirty with Jadie Phelps as Babette and a spot-on performance of the grand production of "Be Our Guest" is a hallmark of this particular run. I have always thought that Lumiere was supposed to be a caricature of Maurice Chevalier from the hit movie GiGi and Bullard did that mixed with a little of Robin Williams' own funny French man. Man, he was a pleasure to watch.
What was not a pleasure to watch was some of the staging during the non-musical time on stage. There was a lot of standing around in one place in the first act. I could hear my high school theatre director in the back of my head, "Are you a tree? Then why have you just planted yourself in that one spot?" The worst was the wolf attack on Maurice played by GTC resident music director, Greg Doss. He literally just sat or knelt in center stage haphazardly gesturing towards the dancing wolves and it was weird. I just kept thinking, "Is this what Jay Lewis wanted this scene to look like?" Greg really seemed a little lost during most of his time on stage. I am hoping that something went wrong in Friday's performance and it just worked out to what I saw. The sets were fine for this production. Not elaborate, not sparse. They neither added a lot to the production nor did they take away from the actor's performances. The one exception was the rose that signifies the time left before Adam and the rest of the castle's residents have left before the curse cannot be reversed. Created by GTC (not bought online like most) it was well defined and big enough to see when the fateful petals dropped. It truly was a perfect rendition of a pivotal set piece for the show.
I must say I have seen a lot of BatB productions this year ranging from the National Tour that came through Bass Hall to my daughter's 5th grade class' version. I will be seeing it a lot more next year because it is on the list for many local theatres' 2018 seasons. Granbury Theatre Company's version is a production to see if for no other reason than the highest musical talent that is on stage at the Granbury Opera House. This is my suggestion to you, make a day of it. Go into Historic Granbury, visit the Nutt House or other quaint shops on the square. Have a meal at a local (not chain) restaurant and see this show. After the show get a candy or some Bluebell next door and just relax for a while. It is worth it.
Friday/Saturday Evening Curtain 7:30
Weekend Matinee 2:00
December 19th - 21st Evening Curtain 7:30
Tickets $20 - $30
To purchase tickets got to www.granburytheatrecompany.org or call the Box Office @ 817-579-0952