Arts Club Theatre Company

Beauty and the Beast

Dates 7 December 2006-14 January 2007 Venue Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Director Bill Millerd

Reviewer Heidi Hoff

Repeating its successful run last holiday season at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage is The Arts Club Theatre’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. After almost a year of keeping busy with other projects, the original cast reunites to tell the beauty is in the eye of the beholder story common in fairy tales and real life, too.

Amy Wallis once again scores in the role of Belle with her Disneyesque voice and comedic timing. Warren Kimmel plays a convincing beast conveying his emotions through body language and vocal nuances, his face hidden behind a brilliantly crafted mask.

The ensemble’s role is generally a supporting one, but that’s not the case in this production. Jonathan Winsby lights up the stage with his primping, preening, and hilariously self-absorbed Gaston.

Matt Palmer (Lumiere) Shawn MacDonald (Cogsworth) and Sara-Jeanne Hosie (Babette) provide the laughs necessary to keep this well-timed musical up to speed. Susan Anderson as Mrs Potts with her adorable little teacup alternately played by Jessica Marino and Abigail Winter-Culliford are crowd favourites.

Costume designer Rebekka Sorenson brings sumptuous fabrics and keen details to the wardrobe that is even visible from the balcony. The dance numbers choreographed by Valerie Easton make for whirling, twirling, toe-tapping entertainment, specifically in “Be Our Guest.”

The revolving set alternates between village, bar, and dining hall with the Beast’s castle featured on the other side. Sturdy stairways and turrets of the Beast’s castle support groups of actors at a time with nary a wobble.

This production is top notch all the way. From the setting to the scenery to the costumes and the actors’ fine voices, the audience is easily transported from their seats to Belle and the Beast’s magical world. Treat a loved one Beauty and the Beast before it closes on 14 January. I can’t think of a better gift this holiday season.

© 2006 Heidi Hoff