I am so ecstatic to say that I was able to attend a play at one of my bucket list theaters in Arkansas Friday, June 24: DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at The Royal Theatre in Benton. However, they really do not need my help with marketing, because the remaining shows are sold out….and they should be. The Royal Players are a talented group of entertainers, and this production was equal to anything you would have seen at any Disney property.
With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tie Rice, book by Linda Woolverton, and directed by Bob Bidewell, this classic ‘tale as old as time’ is about a girl, Belle (Marcia Brown), who does not want to be part of her provincial life that is offered, including a proposal by the town hunk Gaston (Kurt Leftwich), and longs for adventure. Soon her father (Danny Troilett) is captured by The Beast (Tanner Oglesby) and trades herself to be in her father’s place. The Beast and all of the castle’s inhabitants are under an enchanted spell, and all hope that Belle can break it by falling in love with The Beast. In the end, everything works out and they live happily ever after.
These actors/actresses have loads of talent! The singing was powerful-the whole cast really. The sound was full and blended nicely. Like I said, they are all Disney worthy. Brown was gracious and a tad spunky with her Belle; Oglesby’s Beast was dominating, yet had endearing qualities; but if you closed your eyes and listened, Leftwich’s Gaston sounded like the real deal! It was great. Other notable characters: according to the lady sitting beside me, Lumiere (William Alverio) made her giggle a lot, and I enjoyed his chemistry with Babette (Olivia Hatton); I loved how Cogsworth (Matthew Burns) committed to his accent and demeanor; Lefou (Hayden Griffis) was so funny that he stole some scenes; another scene stealer was Chip (Denver Allen)-he was a lot of fun to watch! I could go on and on about everyone really-they were all so good!
The musical has a lot more added songs than the movie, which, I feel, adds a lot more depth and understanding to the story line. In Act I, “No Matter What” is a precious song between Belle and her father supporting each other; My favorite added song is “Me,” where Gaston is singing a marriage proposal to Belle-you really need to Youtube that one if you don’t get to see the play; When Belle is stuck in the castle, she sings “Is This Home?” and laments about taking her old life for granted; in “How Long Must This Go On” The Beast is frustrated with his situation and longs to gain the world’s forgiveness; and the first act ends with the Beast singing “If I Can’t Love Her” when Belle runs off after he gets furious with her for going into the west wing.
Act II is a little shorter and reprises a few songs and has more familiar favorites-Mrs. Potts (Amanda Gilmore) singing the title song is just beautiful. Other songs added were “Human Again,” where the household wishes for the spell to be broken; “Maison des Lunes” is where Gaston and Lafou meet with the asylum guy Monsieur D’Arque (Jayden Sprout) to make a deal to get Belle’s father placed there; and Belle realizes she is changing as a person in “A Change in Me.”
I can’t wrap this up without giving a shoutout to Olivia Stephens for the amazing choreography. I especially liked the clinking of the glasses in “Gaston”; The costumes were amazing thanks to Michelle Alverio and company; and the lighting, done by Jackson Blome, was the most dramatic that I have seen in a community theatre.
So, I don’t want to say you are missing out if you didn’t get tickets, but……well….you are. However, The Royal Theatre does have a couple of other productions coming up in the summer that you will want to catch-HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL JR in July and NOISES OFF! In August. Check out their website at www.theroyaltheatre.org on how to get tickets and news on upcoming shows.