Theatre Review: The Arts Club’s Sparkling Beauty And The Beast A Worthy Tribute

The Disneyfication of the planet took another leap forward this week with the news headlines that Disney has purchased the film and TV possessions of 20th Century Fox. For many years the Disney Corp. Beauty and the Beast, that aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (I still find that name hard to write), the musical by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice, is a gorgeous creation, funny, and moving genuinely.

= $ =p> it was seen by me, when Expenses Millerd’s spirited production opened up at the Stanley as the creative arts Club’s holiday-season staple, to be remounted over many subsequent Decembers. The show may be considered a little more familiar by now, but it has additionally gained some resonance. Gaston, that charmer, actually is a sexual harasser and neo-Nazi.

And the Beast is another Scrooge, a nasty, naughty rich guy – albeit with hairy paws – who learns to be nice. How about the play as a proto-feminist love tale? Despite her name, Belle/Beauty has much more going for her than just her looks. She’s brave, smart, and a compulsive reader, a strong non-conformist young woman who stands up to and calls out two abusive men and reforms one of them.

That said, Shannon Chan-Kent has a stunning face to look with her lovely little-girl tone of voice and feisty charm. She looks like a real-life princess in the exquisite dresses Barbara Clayden has created for her as the play approaches its (spoiler alert!) happy closing. She and Jonathan Winsby’s Beast spend their fairy-tale courtship with genuine feelings, and Winsby’s rich baritone is the truth via behind that beastly face mask.

Winsby played Gaston in the initial Arts Club creation. Here, hilarious Kamyar Pazandeh has the looks and great tone of voice as the biceps-flexing egomaniac who would like Belle for himself. Only after Gaston’s transformation into the villainous villain do you realize how physically intimidating he’s actually been to Belle. The Beast’s home staff gradually being turned into things, are delightful as ever. Very funny Shawn MacDonald earnings from the original creation as Cogsworth, the uptight clockwork Butler and Susan Anderson are back again as Mrs. Potts, the teapot who sings a sweet version of the title song. Sexy maid Babette (Anna Kuman), Madame de la Grande Bouche’s operatic wardrobe (Meghan Gardiner) and little Chip the teacup (Nolen Dubuc) all have their moments.

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My favorite remains Lumiere, the gallant Gallic chandelier, played with wonderful comic timing by Peter Jorgensen. A talented chorus sing, and dance to Valerie Easton’s entertaining choreography, restaged by Scott Augustine, in the excellent ensemble quantities Gaston, Be Our Guest and Human Again, with full sound from Ken Cormier’s six-piece orchestra.

Alison Green’s beautiful candy-coloured cartoon set and Clayden’s inventive wigs and costumes make the show a visual treat. Credited for his directorial skills Rarely, Bill Miller has put a sparkling show jointly, a valuable tribute to Amy Wallis, the creative arts Club’s original Belle, used by leukemia at a tragically early age group. This production is focused on her.

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