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Beauty and the Beast
a Comedy
by William Glennon

COMPANY : Live Arts Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Belfry Playhouse (inside Norcross Presbyterian Church) [WEBSITE]
ID# 5214

SHOWING : January 19, 2018 - February 03, 2018



Mr. Glennon has used the Perrault version of this fanciful story as the basis of his charming play, but has added depth of character and believable answers to some of the puzzling questions. We learn how and why the prince was changed into a beast in the first place. We also see the beast’s growth, under Beauty’s subtle guidance, from a raging creature to a man who can be loved for himself. Beauty’s family provides a warm and amusing background to the main plot, and they, too, change for the better.
Recommended for All Audiences.

Director Bethany Bing
The Spirit Syanna Bailey
Poppa Justin Collins
The Page JJ Jones
Toot Sweet Troy Jones
Henri Xander Jones
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Beauty on a Beastly Budget
by playgoer
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
"Beauty and the Beast" is a problematic story for a children’s show. Seeing a young woman held captive by a monster isn’t a cheery experience, and some leavening agent is needed. In the Disney musical version, that leavening is provided by a buffoonish romantic rival and talking/singing/dancing household objects. In William Glennon’s version, the leavening comes with the introduction of the boisterous family of Beauty’s (father, two sisters, and two brothers) and their servant. Unfortunately, this family is absent for all but the tail end of the second act, darkening the spirit of the second half.

The storyline posits an enchanted spot in the forest inhabited by a spirit with the power to make dreams come true -- and also to turn an uncaring prince into a beast, until released by the power of love. The first part of the first act takes place in this spot, as Beauty’s family prepares to have a picnic.

Bethany Bing has done a good job of directing The Spirit (Syanna Bailey) to have fluid movement and speech in the opening lines. That’s followed by sparkling interplay between Beauty’s sisters (Gwen Samford as Paulette and understudy Gabby Gordillo as Henriette in the performance I attended). Performances of some of the other minor characters don’t match up to this early promise, but the production flows on smoothly, with scene changes in Andrea Hermitt’s set design readily accomplished by rotating three-sided painted columns. Costumes by Dawn Davridge are impressive, if not always well-fitted, and Becca Parker’s props, lighting, and sound design do all they need to, with style.

Blocking in the playing space, in which audience can sit on three sides, isn’t always designed to give good views to those sitting on the sides, but works well in the more sparsely-populated scenes. The second act is primarily a series of scenes between Beauty (Stephanie Rinzler) and the Beast (Khalil Barnett), and in these scenes the action is easily visible to all, featuring a wonderful look for the Beast.

"Beauty and the Beast" is a somewhat darker tale than the usual fare for children, at least in the adaptation being performed by Live Arts Theatre. Still, it has its charms. Despite the distracting busy-ness of the youngest member of the cast and the uneven talent pool in evidence, the story comes through strong and clear. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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