Be their guest.
This weekend, as the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast,” hits the big screen, some local actors are taking the show back to its roots.
In 1994, Beauty and the Beast took New York City by storm, becoming one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history.
The charming animated movie comes to life again as it begins its Madison County run Thursday as West Jefferson High School Musical Director Rachel Herman has gathered a collection of colorful characters to present the show through Sunday. It will be on the West Jefferson High School stage Thursday (for a pre-paid dinner theatre only) through Saturday starting at 7 p.m., as well as a Sunday matinee beginning at 3:30 p.m.
The show circles around the improbable love story between a beautiful lass and a terrifying beast. A prince is transformed into the Beast through a spell that also turns other people into some interesting castle objects that come to life.
Autumn Sammons is enchanting as the book-loving Belle, a young woman whose fantasy of love leads her to the unlikeliest of locations. The audience will be on Belle’s side throughout, but certainly after she sacrifices herself for the welfare of her father.
Boorish and hotheaded, as a gem of the show, Patrick Krischak brings a sense of compassion to the role of the Beast. Krischak does an admirable job of showing his character’s struggle with the ability to show feelings for Belle. Krischak and Sammons do a nice job of developing chemistry throughout.
As the little teapot short, but very talented, Katie Stone is wonderful as Mrs. Potts. Oozing with many maternal witticisms, Stone combines fine acting with a satisfyingly-percolating singing voice, particularly in the title song.
Reese Nawman is one of the gems of the show as he illuminates the stage as Lumiere, the valet-turned-candelabra. Nawman’s blazing intensity is a spark throughout the show, but is accentuated as he leads the cast in the colorfully-glowing “Be Our Guest.”
Ticking along as the quintessential father time is Nathaniel Dersom as Cogsworth. Dersom’s stage presence is like clockwork as the cultured (but often jittery) mantle timepiece. The interactions between Nawman and Dersom provide some of the musical’s top moments.
As the third gem of the show, Andrew Weber does his usual stellar job — this time as Gaston, a character not lacking in self-confidence. Displaying a command of the stage, Weber’s Gaston proves to be a muscle-bound egotist who will do whatever it takes to get Belle for his own.
The show has several supporting characters who are sure to be audience favorites.
Rachael Brown is maid-to-order as flirty feather-duster Babette. Nicole Evans is charming as a Chip off of the old teapot. Loraine Stone is delightful as the diva-like Wardrobe. Nick McGlothlin is entertaining as the bumbling kind-hearted sidekick LeFou — the Robin to Gaston’s Batman.
Deserving special mention as Belle’s loveable crackpot inventor father Maurice is Casey Cunningham, as well as Hope Schwind, Keresa Murray, and Hannah Messer as the obnoxiously-charming Silly Girls.
The rest of the cast does a fine job with a variety of roles ranging from villagers to kitchen cutlery to wolves as they execute the many pleasing dance sequences created by choreographer Danielle Fredette.
Almost stealing the show are the costumes — with coordination from Lisa Weber. From Babette’s feathery attire to dancing napkins, the colorful costumes are wonderful.
An orchestra led by director Elmer Broecker and accompanist Jacob Boyer add greatly to the magical atmosphere.
Set designer Anthony Alshire and set constructors Don Arnold and Roger Jeffers have some wonderful surprises in store for the audience
This weekend, be West Jefferson High School’s guest for a musical night of Disney-inspired enchantment.
Then go see the movie at London’s State Theater. There is more than enough of this lovely story to go around.