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Act III Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

By • Jul 28th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Encore Stage & Studio Act III Theatre Company
Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre, Arlington, VA
$15/$10 Children, Seniors and Students
Through August 2nd

Encore Stage & Studio Act III Theatre Company’s mission is to showcase the talents of older teens, college & grad students. They’ve put together an adorable production of the Disney classic, Beauty & the Beast.

Director Susan Alison Keady has an awful lot of people to maneuver and she’s done a nice job with it.

There are a few things hampering the show. The lack of body mics for even the leads is a mistake. It’s a cavernous space, and the actors are often tied to standing near the three small floor mics to project to the crowd. It’s a shame, because Belle (Diana Ruskin) has a lovely, clear mezzo soprano and Beast (Marshall Severin) has a beautifully focused baritone, and both deserve to be heard. Also, a complete lack of a mask or make up for the Beast is almost comical…Severin is a good looking man, and a long, shaggy wig and horns did not transform him into something hideous. The canned music is a hindrance as well…to do a musical of this scale, with a lot of physical action and choreography, is difficult. Without a baton to follow, the actors often struggled with their musical entrances and it affected the pacing.

That said, there were plenty of highlights to go around. The three silly girls smitten with Gaston (Louisa deButts, Daria Hoobchaak, and Jessica Moody) are full of light and charm. The “Enchanted Castle” cast was especially convincing. Severin gave an entertaining and energetic performance as the Beast, unexpectedly funny with great expression. His tender moments were executed with a grace and maturity beyond his years. Lumiere (Meg Glassco) and Cogsworth (Meghan MacFarland) gave clever, polished characterizations of beloved characters. Meg Hoover as the operatic Wardrobe and Claire Yenson as the naughty Babette also sparkled.

The costumes (Debra Leonard) were outstanding. They were vibrant, creative, and exquisitely made. The lighting design (Katy McHugh) was pretty and lent an air of magic to what was a very earthy production. The set design (Jimmy Keady) was well constructed and a perfect use of the large space.

Most importantly, the young audience was captivated. Nary a peep was heard during the 2.5 hour show (with the startling exception of the children sitting directly next to me-note to parents: it’s never too early to start teaching theatre etiquette!) and the little faces were alight with the wonder of seeing a favorite animated film brought to life.

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