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Every year the producers at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre choose a family friendly show especially for their younger audience members. This year’s selection is the very popular musical – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

For those few of you who aren’t familiar with the story – this is the tale of a young prince whose uncaring manner with an enchantress results in a spell being set upon him. The spell commands that he live as a horrible looking beast until he is able to show love and to receive it back. The spell also turns his servant staff into various objects – a clock, a candelabra, a tea pot, a feather duster or a vanity chest. In a little town nearby there lives a beautiful young woman who is as different as the beast is, in terms of her fitting in with the townspeople. The woman, Belle, longs to get away from the confines of her life. In the course of the story, she finds herself captured by the beast and facing challenges which test her and change her.

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The charming Julia Bonnett plays Belle opposite the powerfully voiced Preston Yates as the Beast in B&B’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

These two main characters are wonderfully portrayed by local talent Julia Bonnett and B&B newcomer Preston Yates. Ms. Bonnett charms us immediately with her gentle characterization and her spectacular voice. She is such a pleasure to watch and listen to, I was totally drawn into any scene she appeared in. Her duet of “No Matter What” with her father Maurice, played here by longtime B&B favorite Ty Stover, is touching and superbly sung by both. Yates is well suited for the Beast, with a sorrowful countenance giving way to hope touched with humor as his salvation through Belle comes into focus. He is a keen actor with a powerful baritone voice that literally fills the room on his “If I Can’t Love Her”.

Touring the castle

John Vessel’s Cogsworth (left) and Alan M-L Wager’s Lumiere show Belle, played by Julia Bonnett around the Beast’s castle in B&B’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

Much of the fun in this story comes from the castle staff who must endure being objects: becoming a clock is the consequence for the tightly wound Cogsworth, played here with gusto by John Vessel; a life as a candelabra is the outcome for the romantic Lumiere, rendered with a joyous delectation by Alan M-L Wager; Kelly Teal Goyette brings her operatic talents to bear portraying former singing star turned vanity chest, Madame de la Grande Bouche; Erin Becker is alluring as the flirtatious maid Babette, who has become a feather duster; and B&B star Suzanne Stark returns to provide us with a lovely Mrs. Potts, the teapot, whose beautiful song “Beauty and the Beast” is a highlight of the show.

Madame de la Grande Bouche

Madame de la Grande Bouche (Kelly Teal Goyette, center) tells of her glorious past in the opera as Mrs. Potts (Suzanne Stark, left) and Belle (Julia Bonnett) look on in B&B’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

Belle’s hometown has it’s share of characters as well. This includes the aforementioned Ty Stover, whose gentle and eccentric Maurice is a steadying force for his daughter Belle; the egotistical Gaston, done with over-sized presence by Jon McHatton; his foil and sidekick LeFou, played with generous silliness by Samuel P. McKanney; and the “Silly Girls”, all giggly and starry-eyed as provided by Samantha Russell, Sally Scharbough and Christine Zavakos. Peter Scharbrough does a noteworthy turn as the creepy asylum director Monsieur D’Arque, and second-grader Holland Barnes returns to the B&B stage (after his stint as Michael in last year’s Peter Pan) as cute teacup Chip.

Gaston and Silly Girls

Gaston (Jon McHatton) is surrounded by the admiring flock of Silly Girls, (from left – Sally Scharbrough, Christine Zavakos and Samantha Russell) in B&B’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

Of special note is the work of scenic designer Michael Layton, whose multi-level structure (a re-working of B&B’s Cinderella set) provides the many different spaces necessary for this tale to be told.

Director Eddie Curry, along with choreographer Ron Morgan, and musical director Kristy Templet have created an enchanting and colorful stage experience for audiences of all ages, but children especially will enjoy this adventure at the theatre.

Be Our Guest3

The entire cast of B&B’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” after the spectacular “Be My Guest” number.

I cannot comment on an evening at B&B without mentioning the fine buffet that is offered (lots of kid favorites on the line this time) and the wonderful theatre staff, caring waiters and ever-present bussers, who make a visit to the theatre by the pyramids such a pleasure!

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast continues at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre through July 10th. Show times and reservations can be obtained at http://www.beefandboards.com or by calling 317-872-9664.

  • – Photos by Julie Curry
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