“Beauty and the Beast” Theater Review.
In this classic musical the audience is always treated to great songs; at Literally Alive, today’s presentation was for the family; it was cut down from Broadway’s two plus hours to a neat, compact one hour fifteen minutes. Lierally Alive Family Theatre produces original musicals based on classic childrens literature. Performed at The Players Theatre at 115 MacDougall Street in the heart of the West Village, Michael Sgouros and producing artistic director Brenda Bell put on a marvelous rendidition of this warm, heartfelt musical, “Beauty and the Beast”
In cutting down the time as to keep the children focused, Literally keeps the meat of the show intact as the plot is concerned. It deals with three sisters and one brother, a loving father who has lost his wealth, much to the chagrin of sisters Louise(Elise Ramaekers) and Norma (Raina Silver). Both Beauty and son Chance are less affected by the families new status.
As the show moves on, Pappa (Devon Turchan) believes that his wealth will be restored and he sets out for the port. He comes across a castle and is confronted by the Beast (Eric Fletcher). It is there that he must give up one of his daughters. Beauty (Emily Sharick) the dutiful daughter agrees to go. As time passes, Beauty feels safe with the Beast and after many months, decides to marry him.
The biggest challenge for many off off Broadway theaters is the small stages that many of them have. It was remarkable the way choreographer and director Pierce Cassedy was able to move the many characters around the stage, especially in dance numbers like “The Calm Before the Storm” and “Two of a Kind”. It is equally impressive when there is a multi set. Elizabeth Chaney had interesting set design with all scenic changes. The sets flowed well with the show’s plot line. Courtney Hansen’s opulent costumes were too something to behold. From Papa’s onto the ensemble, these well thoughtout costumes added to the fun of the performance.
While not everyone of the actors had great singing voices, Beauty, Chance (James Brautigam), Emily Sharick and Eric Fletcher were all terrific. Devon Turchan was more fun to watch sing even though his voice was not on par with the aforementioned.
Jessica Choi’s lighting for the most part was fine; in the second part of the show, however, her Baroque colors played heavy on the viewer. The deep periwinkle matched with deep coral lighting gave the set to much darkness, especially in the “Stay” number. A musical like “Beauty” needs brighter lighting which we had more of in the first half of the show.
Also first rate in this show was the musicians tucked neatly on the left side of the theater right next to the stage. These very talented musicians were fun to watch while the performance was in full swing. Doing both the music and sound effects added a special feature for the young people in the audience.
The historic Players Theatre is a special off off Broadway house. It is small enough for great viewing; Gothic by nature and the perfect place to watch a show like “Beauty and the Beast”.
“Beauty and the Beast” runs till April 10th at The Players Theatre.
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