Disney’s Beauty and the Beast has been a fan favorite, for both children and children at heart, since it was released as a film in 1991. It has been so longstanding and popular, in fact, that a live action version was released just this year, which makes North Carolina Theatre’s production of the theatrical version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, onstage now at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium under the direction of Sam Scalamoni, perfectly timed.
Timing, however, isn’t the only thing that makes this production perfect; there is much to love here! The show opens with the familiar “Belle” song, revealing Catherine Charlebois as an adorable and powerful-voiced Belle and Peter Saide as a cartoonish and hilarious representation of Gaston, the brawny, brainless, chauvinistic man who hopes to win Belle’s heart. With Saide’s well-represented sauntering, muscle flexing, extreme vanity, and smirking humor, It is easy to see why this villainous character has become such a cult favorite in recent years.
Every moment in the show isn’t played for laughs, however. Belle shares some truly sweet moments with her father Maurice, portrayed by Lamont Wade. And, when she takes her father’s place as a prisoner in the castle of The Beast (Ben Michael), that’s when the sweet moments and the magic truly start.
Jokes and criticisms about “Stockholm Syndrome” aside, the tale of how Belle ultimately comes to love The Beast is still a sweet one and is wonderfully brought to life by these talented actors. It also helps that the makeup and costuming, particularly for The Beast, are jaw-droppingly magical and realistic, and that the lighting and sets are on-point at every moment, never spoiling the illusion or taking viewers out of the magical world of the enchanted castle.
And speaking of enchanted, the cast of characters that make up the castle’s bewitched objects add a lot of fun to this great show. Dirk Lumbard is charming as the womanizing Lumiere, and he has many a funny moment with Talia Robinson as Babette, one of his love interests. Similarly, Michael Brian Dunn is funny and lovable as the stodgy, stubborn Cogsworth.
The script sticks very close to the Disney film version, so there won’t be a lot of surprises here for most viewers. What there is, however, is a lot of charm and a lot of fun, all wrapped up in that perfect Disney package. You really can’t go wrong with this one!
The North Carolina Theatre presents Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at 7:30 p.m. July 28 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. July 29 and 30 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/2264587.
NCT STUDY GUIDE: http://nctheatre.com/sites/nct/files/Beauty%20Study%20Guide%20FINAL.pdf.
2016-17 SEASON: http://nctheatre.com/show-season/201617-season.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the 2 p.m. Saturday, July 29th, performance.
Beauty and the Beast (1740 folktale): http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0425c.html (Beauty and the Beast: Folktales of Type 425C, translated and/or edited by D.L. Ashliman) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast (Wikipedia).
Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (French author, c. 1695-1755): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabrielle-Suzanne_Barbot_de_Villeneuve (Wikipedia).
Beauty and the Beast (1991 animated film): http://movies.disney.com/beauty-and-the-beast (official website), http://www.alanmenken.com/m/work/beauty-and-the-beast/ (Alan Menken web page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast_%281991_film%29 (Wikipedia).
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1994 Broadway and 1997 West End musical): http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000262 (Music Theatre International), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/beauty-and-the-beast-1895 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: https://pittsburghmusicals.com/downloads/StudyGuide-Beast.pdf (Pittsburgh Musical Theater).
Alan Menken (composer): http://www.alanmenken.com/m/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/alan-menken-12135 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Menken (Wikipedia).
Howard Ashman (lyricist): http://www.howardashman.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/howard-ashman-6356 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Ashman (Wikipedia).
Sir Tim Rice (lyricist): http://www.timrice.co.uk/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/tim-rice-8890 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Rice (Wikipedia).
Linda Woolverton (librettist): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/linda-woolverton-7344 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Woolverton (Wikipedia).
Sam Scalamoni (New York-based director): http://www.samscalamoni.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/sam-scalamoni-71940 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/samscalamonidirector/ (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/sscalamoni (Twitter page).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.