Review: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at the City of Fairfax Theatre Company

One doesn’t generally think of Beauty and the Beast as a dance show first and foremost. But in this lively production by The City of Fairfax Theatre Company and Truro Anglican Church, featuring so many strong elements that it’s hard to pick a standout, it’s the dancing that ultimately leaves the biggest impression.

James Myers and Maura Lacy in ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Photo by Julia MacInnnis.

Energetic high-kicking choreography by Evie Korovesis, at moments reminiscent of some of Susan Stroman’s celebrated Broadway routines, is well suited to the ensemble here. They dance with both exuberance and precision, and never seem to tire of breaking into yet another routine. Even Belle (Maura Lacy), whose role isn’t dance-heavy, consistently moves with a dancer’s grace.

Of course, the show is much better known for requiring strong singing and acting abilities, and those are here in abundance. Lacy as Belle and James Myers as the Beast bring powerful voices and an appealing warmth and vulnerability to their roles. Jake Lefler as Gaston and Adam Ressa as Lefou make a terrific comic duo, as do Joshua Aaron Poole (Lumiere) and Cogsworth (Andy Shaw). They’re backed up by an excellent supporting cast and an ensemble, both adults and children, who bring as much verve to their singing as to their dancing.

Under Amanda C. Herman’s able direction, the actors create the feel of real, living. established communities both inside and outside of the castle. And the orchestra, led by Kirsten Boyd (who also plays keyboard), achieves a truly impressive sound, considering its small size. 

Thomas Iodice’s ingenious set design features a large central set piece that can be rotated to show different backdrops and opened up to provide the interior of the Beast’s castle, complete with lovingly detailed library. Staircases on either side of the capacious stage offer extra space, leading up to the “West Wing” on one side and Belle’s room on the other.  Ashley-Rose Dickey’s costumes fill the stage with color and vibrancy (kudos to Michelina Anne Pollini for being able to make it up and down stairs while dressed as a wardrobe, something I wasn’t sure could be done!). And David Britt’s special effects, particularly the use of smoke and shadows in the transformation scenes, are very well done. 

Matthew Jacob Lefler as Gaston. Photo by Julia MacInnis.

There were occasional problems with the sound system on opening night, especially during the show’s prologue, but those should be easily remedied. On the whole, this is a production that’s simultaneously spirited and polished, and should leave audiences thoroughly charmed.

Running time: Two and a half hours with one 15-minute intermission.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast plays through July 27, 2019, at Sidney Lanier Middle School, 3801 Jermantown Road, Fairfax, VA 22030. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.