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Review for Beauty & the Beast

by Ceci LeBeau
October 17, 2018

Prana showcases Beauty and the Beast

Running Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10/18, 19 and 20th

The story of Beauty and the Beast is indeed a “tale as old as time.” Originally a fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince De Beaumont, it came into American prominence in 1991. Disney’s animated version was a blockbuster. Its screenwriter, Linda Woolverton, was the first woman to write an animated feature for Disney, and her version was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Three years later a Broadway version appeared and ran for thirteen years. Its follow-up international tours played in 13 countries and 115 cities. When it was turned into another Disney movie in 2017 it became the highest grossing live action musical in history. Since then it has become a popular choice for high school and amateur shows. The shorter and sweeter junior version opening at the Prana Center Thursday night is sure to dazzle.

Come back to a time of wonder and enchantment...when the lowly and the lofty can change places in an instant. Once a selfish prince, the Beast was transformed when he refused shelter to a ragged beggar woman. As played admirably by Jason Stokes, the Beast cannot return to being a prince unless he can learn to love another and have her love him in return. The beggar woman casting this spell is then revealed to be a beautiful enchantress. The lovely Belle, played seamlessly by Libby Frassinelli, sings plaintively of seeking adventure beyond the confines of a provincial French town. Meanwhile, she feeds off the advances of the boorish Gaston, carried off handsomely by James Guargenty.

As part of the curse, all of the prince’s servants have been changed into household objects.

The castle cook, Mrs. Potts, has become a kindly teapot. (Grace Kasten) She particularly shines in her touching solo of the title song. Her son, Chip, has become a teacup (played admirably by Max Coppins.) Lumiere, a former valet, has been transformed into a kind hearted but rebellious candelabra. Claudia McMahon gives the role fire, spunk and an impressive French accent. He is best friends with Cogsworth, a loyal British clock and former major domo for the prince (Clancy Harrington.) Madame De la Grande Bouche, formerly an opera singer, has been transformed into a fancy wardrobe. (Summer O’Sullivan.)

This is the first time Prana has rented professional costumes, and they are truly dazzling. For the iconic “Be Our Guest” scene, twenty plus knives, forks and spoons appear on stage with snazzy gold and silver spangled outfits with sequins, bow ties and bare feet. Then twenty tinier children appear angelically all in white, with gauzy tutus for the girls. They are the napkins! The salt and pepper shakers and the cloth menus alone are worth the price of admission. Belle in her golden gown and the Beast in a royal blue waistcoat and ruffled shirt dancing for the first time are a dream.

Unfairly imprisoned by the Beast, Belle’s inventor father Maurice (Maya Rosen) escapes and tries to rally support in the town when Belle is imprisoned in his place. The exquisite “silly girls” fan Gaston’s ego and giggle at his every word. They sing of his prowess in “Gaston.” His ever faithful but generally abused sidekick is piped by Charlotte Wolfstich. The torchlight scene, with angry townspeople marching on the Beast’s castle, flashes with color and menace.

Belle’s courage and devotion to befriend such a hideous outcast climax as she rushes to aid the wounded Beast. His hour come round at last, he lays bare his tormented soul. Once he speaks of his love, and Belle returns his feelings, magic comes alive. The full cast then belts out a rousing finale. This junior version adds new songs, as in the haunting “Human Again,” and a dash of humor (“If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it.”) But these young actors succeed famously in making it a heartfelt drama about the redemptive nature of love.

Once again, Roberta Weiner as director, and Joanne Hines as music director, have crafted a spectacular, tune filled extravaganza. Ninety youngsters made this story come to life. The fact that so many teenagers working behind the scenes are former stars of these musicals speaks volumes about how inspiring they are as teachers.

 

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Comments (1)

Thank you Ceci LeBeau and Holliston Reporter for your wonderful support of the arts, and this lovely review!!

- Roberta Weiner | 10/19/18 4:19 PM

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