Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a popular show right now with several venues running it around the same time. Creative Cauldron makes a grand entrance with their version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast with Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and Book by Linda Woolverton. I’ve seen this production at a few other places this year, and Creative Cauldron’s rendition has proved to be my very favorite that I’ve seen. Matt Conner directs a large, extremely talented cast in this show, which is full of rich vocals and dynamic performances. Truly, this one is a must-see.
If you’re familiar with Creative Cauldron, then you know that it’s an intimate space. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a large-scale production, with a cast of 25+ and grand, elaborate song-and-dance numbers. Knowing that Creative Cauldron would be forced to restructure the show to suit a small black-box theatre, I wondered which elements of the show would be simplified, and how they would do it. The answer is… they didn’t, really. They were able to keep the large cast through masterful blocking, paired with Matt Conner’s precise choreography. I’m still in a bit of awe as to how they managed a large ensemble moving together onstage like a well-oiled machine, utilizing every inch without becoming bulky or overcrowded. This had to take a huge amount of focus and hard work for everyone involved, and its success speaks to the strength of this show’s director, as well as the proficient teamwork between cast and crew.
Scenic and costume designer Margie Jervis uses a lot of creativity to evoke atmosphere while respecting the small space. There are beautiful backdrops, including loaded bookcases and elegant wrought-iron gates, while lighting and sound design work together to enhance the tone (Lynn Joslyn and George Ligon, respectively). The actors themselves are used as props throughout the show, wearing or holding pieces that are as imaginative as they are practical. My favorite example of this came when a group of younger cast members each wore a quirky mechanical piece, so that when they came together and chugged along behind Maurice (Will Stevenson), they became unmistakably one of his eccentric inventions.
Musical Director Leigh Delano leads a live orchestra backstage, where the iconic score really shines. The cast is filled with talented vocalists. Eleanor Todd as Belle showcases a strong, beautiful voice. Wyn Delano commands the stage as the Beast, and his powerful singing voice suits his role perfectly. The song-and-dance numbers are engaging and fun, with the famous “Be Our Guest” as extravagant as you’d expect. A clear audience favorite is the number “Gaston,” which has thrilling dance moves and rousing energy. Ryan Manning is great as the preening, pompous rogue, and Chris Rudy gets a lot of laughs as his foolish, wiry sidekick Lefou.
Jennifer Pagnard is lovely as Mrs. Potts, and her moving rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” is worth the ticket price alone. Joshua Simon and Mikey Bevarelli have perfect chemistry together as the worrisome Cogsworth and charming Lumiere; their bickering banter swept the plot along at a nice clip (I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you know the general plotline of Beauty and the Beast. If you don’t, well…where have you been?!)
While the actors all do excellent jobs with their individual roles, it’s their collective performance that really puts this production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast above the rest, in my opinion. The cast ranges wildly in ages, and they all play off of each other as if they have been performing this piece together for years. If I could flatter every actor in this review individually, I would. But since there are twenty-seven of them, I suggest you just go and see them all for yourself!
Creative Cauldron’s Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite shows this year to date. It’s truly a special project. They’re not here for long, so take in a showing while you can.
Running Time: Approximately two and a half hours, including one 15-minute intermission.