Friday, March 26, 2010

REVIEW: Fall in love with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Fall in love with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Written by Kathleen Szmit

Barnstable Drama Club delights with spring show

Once upon a time there was a handsome, but spoiled young prince who was put under a spell by an enchantress looking to teach the lad a lesson.

Because she felt he had no love in his heart, she turned him into a hideous beast, giving him until his 24th birthday to find someone to love who would also love him back. Should he not, he would remain a beast forever. To symbolize his fate he was given a magic rose that would bloom until that time, at which point the last petal would fall.

So begins the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, in which a cursed Beast finds true love with the bookish young maiden named Belle.

Made popular by a 1990s Disney movie, the story has again come to life in magical splendor on the stage of the Performing Arts Center at Barnstable High School.

Rumored to be BHS Drama Club director John Sullivan’s last “big show,” Beauty spares no detail in this lively retelling, complete with dancing dishware, marvelous melodies, and a wonderfully happy ending.

Once again Sullivan has divvied up the roles between numerous actors and actresses, with Kat Lovett and Seth Garcia stepping impressively into the title roles on opening night (March 19).

Lovett brings a refreshing believability to the part of Belle, a young woman more interested in the books she pores over obsessively than in life in her provincial European town, while Garcia is splendid as the Beast, nicely conveying the struggle of a once-human prince now trapped, perhaps forever, in an unrecognizable form.

Will Belle save him, or will she fall prey to the overconfident, overblown Gaston, well played by Tom Myers, who is obviously enjoying a role in which he gets to ham it up greatly.

Not if those also under the enchantress’s spell have anything to do with it, particularly Cogsworth (a talking clock) and Lumiere (an animated candlestick). As Cogsworth Travis Manni is quite funny, while Sean Potter seems destined for the part of the ebullient Lumiere, playing it up masterfully.

Andrew Harmon is the perfect comic foil for Gaston, taking more than a few lumps while literally falling all over the stage, and Derek Rockwell is absolutely adorable as Chip, a little boy transformed into a teacup.

Perhaps the most surprising star turn, though, comes from Matheus Fiuza, who plays Maurice. With fantastic makeup and an engaging air, Fiuza fully embodies the part of Belle’s well meaning but befuddled father. His makeup is so well done, as is his acting, that one might not realize it’s a high school student on the stage.

Look for Johanna Regan and Danielle Parkka to take over the role of Belle during other performances, while Jeremy Peacock will become the Beast. Rumor also has it that Charlie Ferguson turns out a most hilarious Cogsworth, snooty British accent included.

It wouldn’t be a BHSDC production if there weren’t stunning visual effects, and in this case the show does not disappoint. The sets, built by a host of talented club members, are spectacular, complete with rustic castle walls, balconies, and twinkling stars, all of which is greatly enhanced by nicely done lighting.

Also deserving highest praise are those who created the myriad costumes in the show. From the furry Beast, to the dancing dinnerware that takes the stage during the sensational “Be Our Guest” performance, the costumes are fantastic and quite creative.

While there were a few sound glitches on opening night, they weren’t enough to overshadow what was, ultimately, a hugely entertaining experience.

It is clear from the passion and intensity that the students involved in the show take their work seriously, making this show a must-see.

After all, who doesn’t love a happy ending? Just make sure to get there before the last petal falls.

Friday, March 12, 2010