NETworks brings Disney classic to Belk Theatre
As a child, we all had that one cousin whose house we loved to visit. They had all the latest games and movies, and the best snacks. That was my cousin Ebony.
She had every VHS Disney ever released, vault editions included, all lined on a book shelf in the living room. On days spent at her house, we would take turns picking which movie we were going to watch next.
So, you can imagine my moment of nostalgia Tuesday, September 29, when I saw the tale as old as time, “Beauty and the Beast.”
Actors performed for a combined crowd of early and established at Belk Theatre in the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
Their use of theatrical elements including, storybook stage settings, cottages and contraptual geniuses; vocal clarity; and stencil like drapery brought the Disney classic to life.
The execution of the gargoyles in rearranging the set between scenes before returning to their stone stiff positions was done with such precision.
Sam Hartley made the Beast his own, adding a temperamental yet sensitive nature to the creature.
Gaston, played by Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek was presented in a rather primitive manner. His grandiose display, along with his sidekick, Lefou (Matt Dasilva), and groupies added a great deal of humor.
Costume designer, Ann Hould-Ward, put a spin on the cast’s timely wardrobe. I really enjoyed her take on Mrs. Potts. Rather than a plain teapot costume, actress Stephanie Gray appeared in a glittery bubble dress and lid like beret.
Ensembles of full bloomers, corset dresses and lads in velvet leggings danced across the stage.
In, “Be Our Guest,” one of the largest scenes of the night, a dining room of dancing cutlery resulted in a roaring crowd.
Even in the big acts there were never too many people on stage, just enough for your eyes to keep up with.
Banter and side jokes made the musical portions of the play a lot less unbearable.
Hats off to the choreographer. In one arrangement, performers kept the beat by chiming mugs together in a partner dance -one of my favorite moments from the show.
Overall, I enjoyed the entire cast, especially the flirty wordplay between promiscuous Babette (Melissa Jones) and Lumiere (Ryan N. Phillips).
But, it was the crisp voice of Belle, played by Brooke Quintana that had me in awe of her ability to fill theatre while avoiding ear-piercing shrieks.
Although my VHS collection never filled a book case, I now have one up on cousin Ebony. I bet she’s never seen a show like this!
NETworks Presentation LLC’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” will be at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center until Sunday, October 4. For ticket information visit www.Blumenthal.org.