Come be enchanted by ‘Beauty and the Beast’

November 18, 2008

By Kathleen R. Merrill

It doesn’t matter if you love the story from your childhood, barely remember it or only recall the 1980s’ television series (starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton), you shouldn’t miss Village Theatre’s latest creation, “Beauty and the Beast.”

The Beast, Eric Polani Jensen, laments that he will not get Belle or anyone else to fall in love with him before a magic spell condemns him to remaining a beast forever. By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

The Beast, Eric Polani Jensen, laments that he will not get Belle or anyone else to fall in love with him before a magic spell condemns him to remaining a beast forever. By Jay Koh/Village Theatre

Mesmerizing, enchanting, joyful — what a perfect choice for this year’s holiday production!

Jennifer Paz is an exciting and fun Belle. She brings a strong voice, abundant emotion and lots of spunk to this traditional story about love and seeing people for who they are on the inside.

Maurice (John X. Deveney) gives a touching performance as her sweet and loving father.

And there’s nothing more heart wrenching than a broken Beast (Eric Polani Jensen) as he falls to his knees, choking out the words of “If I Can’t Love Her” at the end of Act 1. Bring a hankie for this number.But the name of this play should be changed to “Lumiere and the Beast’s Other Wonderful Inanimate Objects,” because they truly steal the show.

Lumiere (Nick DeSantis) gives a, dare I say, electric performance as the prince’s servant who turns into a candlestick. He’s witty, sassy, saucy and over the top in the most wonderful way. Mrs. Potts (Bobbi Kotula) is absolutely delightful as the maid who is becoming a teapot. And Ellen McLain is stunning as a famous opera singer who is becoming a gorgeous wardrobe.

Also excellent are Cogsworth (Ian Lindsay), the butler turning into a clock; Babette (Haley N. Ostrander), the maid turning into a feather duster; and Chip (Anders Lindell), son of Mrs. Potts, who is turning into a teacup. Don’t miss how the characters stealthily turn more inanimate as the show progresses.

The dinner for Belle (“Be Our Guest”) is a musical, magical delight. You’ll be hard pressed not to clap and cheer for this enchanting number where the dinner plates dance like The Rockettes, the salt and pepper shakers (indeed the entire ensemble) do some excellent tap dancing and the silverware (in gold) does synchronized swim-like movements around other objects, like the dancing napkins. This number alone is worth the price of admission.

You’ll howl with laughter at Troy L. Wageman’s cheesy, studly, lounge lizardly turn as Gaston. And his sidekick LeFou (John David Scott) is very athletic and has great comedic timing.

Pyrotechnics employed to “transform” the old woman into the Enchantress and the prince into the Beast are amazing. And the sets are a true work of art, beautifully designed by Alex Berry.

If you go

‘Beauty and the Beast’

Nov. 12 – Jan. 4

Francis J. Gaudette Theatre

303 Front St. N.

Tickets are $22-$58.

Call 392-2202 or 866-688-8049 toll-free, or go to www.villagetheatre.org.

Reach Editor Kathleen R. Merrill at 392-6434, ext. 227, or editor@isspress.com.
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