Review: North Shore’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ delights and dazzles the audience
With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book by Linda Wolverton, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ originally premiered on Broadway in 1994 and was nominated for nine Tony awards that year. The musical is based on the popular animated Disney film of the same name and features all your favorite characters and songs with many more originals added. North Shore’s production features direction by Michael Heitzman, choreography by Lisa Shriver and music direction by Rick Fox. The combination of these three truly exceeded expectations and provided the audience with an exceptional evening of theatre. The supreme staging and creative choreography paired with outstanding performances by the cast make this production one of the best I have seen at NSMT.
Detailed and specific set pieces designed by Stephen Dobay perfectly set each scene. Original costume design by Ryan J. Moller with additional designs and coordination by Sandra Pelletier help bring each character to life. From Cogsworth’s clock costume to Mrs. Potts’ teapot shaped dress to all the unique and colorful enchanted objects that filled the stage during production numbers like “Be Our Guest” and “Human Again”, each costume was detailed and imaginative. The hair and wig design by Gerard Kelly and makeup design by Dena Olivieri further enhanced each character. The lighting design by John Burkland and sound design by Don Hanna innovatively guided the audiences’ attention towards each scene or specific characters, making scenic transitions seamless and the magical elements more impactful and impressive.
As I mentioned, the performances given by the cast of this production were absolutely fantastic. Their individual character work, strong vocals, dancing and physical comedy elements were even better than I’d hoped they would be. The cast as a whole clearly loves performing this show and sharing the story and beloved music with audiences. Each lead was superbly talented and putting them together on one stage made for an outstanding production.
Gaston, played by Taylor Crousore, with his booming, deep voice and perfect characterizations, was fully committed to his character, portraying both his appealing and appalling qualities equally as if they were actually a part of who he was. His sidekick Lefou was amusingly played by Andrew Kruep whose strong physical comedy skills were fully utilized just about every time he was on stage. The performance of “Gaston” was upbeat and fun, while “Maison des Lunes”, sung with Monsieur D’Arque, chillingly played by Mark DiConzo, was dark and vocally rich. Lumiere (Benjamin Howes) and Cogsworth (Phillip Taratula) were incredibly funny and the dynamic duo was clearly audience favorites. It should come as no surprise that “Be Our Guest” was the standout production number of the night as the outlandish and exciting performance received extended and exuberant audience applause. Almost a full minute went by before the actors could continue the scene.
The father-daughter relationship between Belle (Rose Hemingway) and Maurice (David Coffee) was believable and super sweet. Their performance of “No Matter What” was truly heartwarming. Hemingway was bright-eyed and optimistic as Belle, with lovely vocals that matched her cheerful portrayal. Her vocals and emotional range were showcased in “Belle”, “Home”, and “A Change in Me”. The Beast was strongly performed by Stephen Cerf whose powerful vocals shined in “How Long Must This Go On?” and “If I Can’t Love Her”. As a pair, Hemingway and Cerf nicely showed their characters’ relationship arc and how it developed over time from one of fear and unhappiness to one of understanding, acceptance, and love. Two of their strongest moments were when Belle reads the Beast the story of King Arthur in the library, and then later during their dinner and dancing to the well-known title song “Beauty and the Beast” (pleasantly performed by Christiane Noll as Mrs. Potts). By the time we reached the “Transformation/Finale” the audience was fully captivated by Hemingway and Cerf and was excitedly awaiting their happy ending. The transformation was nothing short of magically and beautifully done leaving the audience overjoyed and smiling.
The audience couldn’t stand to their feet fast enough during the curtain call and gave the cast an overwhelming amount of applause and cheers. Tickets to this show are sure to sell quickly, so if you love this story and its wonderful characters, get your tickets now. North Shore Music Theatre’s production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is sure to please the whole family. ©
‘Beauty and the Beast’ plays Tuesdays-Sundays through July 30th.Tickets are between $57- $82 with group rates available for 10+ people. Children under 18 save 50% at all performances. For tickets or more information visit www.nsmt.org , call 978-232-7200 or visit the box office in person at 62 Dunham Rd. Beverly, MA.
ADDITIONAL FREE EVENTS
MEET THE THEATRE: Free post-show audience discussion with the artists and theatre management.
• TUESDAY, July 18 at 7:30pm
• SATURDAY, July 22 at 2pm
OUT AT THE NORTH SHORE: An evening for the LGBTQ Community including a free post-show reception with the cast at the Backstage Bistro.
• THURSDAY, July 20 at 7:30pm
Stephen Cerf (Beast) and Rose Hemingway (Belle) in North Shore Music Theatre's production of Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST running thru July 30. Photos © Paul Lyden
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com/