Review: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ peppy, splendidly sung
December 30, 2014
Paul Hyde, [email protected] 4:34 p.m. EST December 26, 2014
The national tour of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” has returned to Greenville in a streamlined production that’s colorful, rambunctious, warmhearted and splendidly sung.
As the Peace Center’s Christmastime show, it’s an enchanting holiday gift.
The Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of a prince who is transformed into a hideous beast as punishment for his cruel and selfish ways. The staff in his castle, meanwhile, are morphing into various household objects: a clock, a candleabra, a teapot.
In order for everyone to become human again, the Beast must earn the love of a young woman, Belle, before it’s too late.
This staging, broadly acted and often pratfall-driven, seems aimed particularly at families with younger children — and there certainly was a considerable number of young princesses in the audience on opening night.
There’s more mugging and straining for comic effect than I recall in past national tours of “Beauty,” even though this staging is by Rob Roth, director of the 1994 Broadway production and all other major tours of the show.
Still, this peppy “Beauty” has much to offer especially for parents and their children this holiday weekend. Composer Alan Menken’s ballads remain fetching, particularly the lyrical title song.
A cast of more than two dozen, meanwhile, robustly delivers the big showstoppers, notably “Be Our Guest.”
The bad news for those who don’t already have tickets is that the six remaining performances through Sunday are almost sold out. A few seats are available. For tickets, call 864-467-3000.
One of the strengths of “Beauty” has always been Belle, an aspirational Disney princess who’s feisty, bookish and unconventional — almost as much of an outcast as the Beast. Jillian Butterfield embraces the role with spirit and a sparkling soprano.
Ryan Everett Wood brings a sturdy, resonant baritone to the role of the Beast and negotiates a range of emotion — from growling monster to callow swain — with ease. Wood’s voice soars mightily on his big Act I number, “If I Can’t Love Her.”
Cameron Bond is marvelous as the preening, conceited Gaston, the muscle-bound rival for Belle’s affections.
Jake Bridges nimbly plays Gaston’s long-suffering sidekick Lefou.
Emily Jewell, as Mrs. Potts the teapot, offers a lovely account of the title song.
Patrick Pevenhouse is excellent as the suave Lumiere, a maître d’ turned into a candelabra. Melissa Jones makes a saucy Babette, the maid morphed into a feather duster.
Samuel Shurtleff provides a droll contribution as Cogsworth, the frequently exasperated head of household who has become a clock.
Kelly Teal Goyette plays the role of the self-dramatizing opera singer Madame de la Grande Bouche with wacky energy. Thomas Mothershed is a sympathetic Maurice, Belle’s ne’er-do-well father.
Two fine young actors (Ross Nemeth and Logan Jeremy Sejas) alternate in the role of Chip, Potts’ son who has become a teacup.
Kevin Finn conducts a tight show. The small orchestra is sufficiently powerful although it lacks the breadth of the larger ensemble one might have heard in past tours of “Beauty.”
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