Beauty and the Beast – 2017

Written on August 15th, 2017

Enchanting Disney Favourite for a New Generation   

Note:  This production of Beauty and the Beast was reviewed at Huron Country Playhouse.  It has closed there, but will re-open on stage at the Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge Nov. 22 to Dec. 31. Note that William Thompson is now in the role as Chip, and David Myers is now Music Director.  

When the animated version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast hit the big screen in 1991, many felt it was Disney’s best ever.  In fact, it received an Oscar nomination for best picture – the first cartoon to do so.  In 1994, it was the first Disney animation to be brought to life on Broadway.   Then earlier this year, Disney brought it back as a live action film.  With the new movie introducing the story to a new generation, Drayton Entertainment has brought this magical musical back to Grand Bend.  It first appeared on the Huron Country Playhouse stage in 2005.

The show features both catchy tunes and heartwarming ballads, as well as quirky characters, funny dialogue, and a touching plot. The beautiful Belle is an outcast in her small village in France, and is certainly not interested in the boorish and vain Gaston who proposes to her. Belle’s father is an inventor of strange contraptions; therefore, he and his bookish daughter are seen as very odd. Belle becomes trapped in an enchanted castle where all the people have been transformed into everyday things – the servants Lumiere and Cogsworth have become a candelabra and clock respectively, while the maid is a feather duster, the housekeeper is a teapot, and her son, Chip, is a cup. Belle learns that the prince who owns the castle is under a spell and has been turned into a hideous beast. Only true love will end the curse.  The message is clear – love transcends appearance, and true love sees inner beauty.

So 12 years later, it’s delightful to see two actors return in their key roles.  Drayton favourite Keith Savage is back as Lumiere, and with him is Patrick R. Brown again playing Cogsworth.  Both are enchanting, just as they were in 2005.

Danielle Wade is a charming Belle. Her amazing voice is perfectly suited for the music.  Wade shines best in roles that build on her own sweet and kind personality.  She can’t even be rude when Gaston is harassing her!

New to Drayton Entertainment is Tony Edgerton in the role of the Beast/Prince.  Edgerton’s vocal range is well suited for the role, and he sings the epic “If I Can’t Love Her” perfectly.

Brent Theissen is hilarious as Gaston.  He has the self-centredness and vanity down pat, and the physique to match.  His sidekick, LeFou, is handled by Gregory Pember, who excels with the slapstick comedy, taking punches and tumbling across the stage.

Valerie Boyle is a wonderful Mrs. Potts, looking perfect in her teapot costume.  Her singing of the title song is heartwarming. Her son, Chip the cup, is played by the adorable Zoe Brown.  Rebecca Poff’s comedic skills shine as Madame de la Grande Bouche, who sings opera from the armoire.  Amanda Struthmann is a suitable coquette as Babette, the feather duster.

Victor Young is perfect as Belle’s father, the absent-minded inventor, and Nick Settimi is delightfully frightening as Monsieur D’Arque of the insane asylum.

Congratulations to Jayme Armstrong on her directorial debut.  She has magically recreated the popular Disney characters on stage.   Armstrong has been a favourite on the Drayton Entertainment circuit, playing leading lady in many popular shows.  It’s exciting to see her move into the director’s chair.

This is a high-energy show, with superior singing and dancing.  Choreographer Robin Calvert deserves credit for the lively dance featuring flips and springs, and Michael Barber’s musical direction gives us a rich sounding orchestra.

The sets are amazing.  The castle turns, and the characters move along a belt. Similarly, the costumes are excellent. In the big “Be Our Guest” number the giant silverware and kitchen utensils join dancing napkins and a flying floor mat, along with the candelabra and the clock in a spectacular array of colour.

Children will be enthralled with the set and costumes, and Mom and Dad can enjoy the clever dialogue and beautiful music.  Book your tickets now for this excellent production of an enchanting story.

Beauty and the Beast continues with eight shows a week until September 3 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check www.huroncountryplayhouse.com.

Note:  Beautfy and the Beast opens on stage with eight shows a week Nov. 22 to Dec. 31, at the Dunfield Theatre, Cambridge. Tickets are available by calling Toll Free 1-855-372-9866 or  the local Box Office 519-747-7788 or check www.draytonentertainment.com

 

Photo: Tony Edgerton, Keith Savage, Patrick R. Brown and Danielle Wade in Beauty and the Beast at Huron Country Playhouse.  Photo by Liisa Steinwedel.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Time Rice
Book by Linda Woolverton
Directed by Jayme Armstrong
Musical Direction by Michael Barber
Choreographed by Robin Calvert
Performed by Danielle Wade, Tony Edgerton, Brent Theissen, Keith Savage, Patrick R. Brown, Valerie Boyle, Rebecca Poff, Gregory Pember, Amanda Struthmann, Victor A. Young , Zoe Brown, Nick Settimi, et al.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
August 10 to September 3, 2017
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

2 Responses to “Beauty and the Beast – 2017” | Add Your Thoughts

  1. We saw Beauty and the Beast this afternoon in Huron Country Playhouse. It was fabulous! Stage settings, costumes, choreography, – wonderful voices – especially enjoyed Belle and the Beast – and always enjoy our favourite Keith Savage.
    I could go on and on – it was the best production we’ve ever seen at Huron country Playhouse – and that’s a BIG STATEMENT –

  2. Lynne Desjardine
    August 17, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Great review, Mary. It was wonderful.
    L

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