Mike Woody reviews Beauty and the Beast, now at La Comedia Dinner Theatre through July 24.
Imagine if you will, a French accent, my apologies to the women if it makes you swoon….
Every man, woman and child, be sure to grab a seat. As you won’t want to miss this special treat.
There is food, catchy songs, lots of dance and plus Gaston. Be our Guest! Be our Guest!
There’s soufflé, some sort of white fish, and fresh carved roast beef. So many tasteful blessings. I’ve yet to even mention the salad topped with papaya chutney dressing.
The meal is just the start. It’s not even the best part, despite the bread cart. The show is the real main event. It is worth every single cent. Be our Guest. Be our Guest. You not only get a delicious feast. But also see Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
You may return to your normal reading voice now, unless you ladies are really digging the French thing. Oui Oui….When asked, ‘Who is your favorite Disney Princess?’ Which happens more often than you might think. My response is…Belle. So I’ve been looking forward to this production of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and was not disappointed. My excitement grew even more after seeing the cast list, featuring the leads from ‘Phantom.’ Those who attended ‘Phantom’ earlier this year witnessed one of the best productions ever staged at La Comedia ( at least in recent memory). With Lily Autumn Page as Belle, who played Christine in ‘Phantom’ and Matthew Wade (Phantom) as the Beast this is a must see show.
Lilly Autumn Page certainly fits the role of Beauty, in appearance and voice. Listening to Page sing is its own fairytale. I was tempted to fight the big muscled Gaston over her myself, but my wife was sitting next to me and she’s scarier than the Beast. The music within this show is a major reason why it’s a favorite. With her voice alone Page made me appreciate two songs that normally don’t register with me. Without any dancing plates or fireworks, just the tremendous beauty of her voice, Page makes ‘Home’ and ‘A Change in Me’ full- fledged spectacles.
When it comes to characters with horrific faces but kind souls and an amazing voice, Matthew Wade is the guy. His roar may be fierce, but his vocals warms the heart. There is much to enjoy about the show, but Wade and Page together again really is a selling point.
All the delightful characters is another reason I’m so fond of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and the entire cast lives up to/exceeds expectations. I recognize Jonathan Pendergrass from past shows, but by far he’s never been more illuminating than as Lumiere. He provides a flash of light with every appearance on stage. It’s a star making performance for Pendergrass. He also shares a great chemistry with Justin Carroll (Cogsworth), their comedic timing is perfect. It’s Carroll’s first role in 18 years, and he didn’t miss a beat. Allison Gabert also stands out as never before, bringing flirtatious charm and sex appeal to Babette. She made me want to come home and dust. Alexia Daniels hits some impressive high notes as the Wardrobe. The always pleasing, Karie-Lee Sutherland is perfectly brewed as Mrs. Potts. Plus, Ed Iverson excels as Maurice.
There’s no one like Gaston, and he’ll gladly tell you why….there’s even a whole song about it. Steven Lakes certainly has the build for Gaston and fills the role in all the right ways. Lakes was also in ‘Phantom’ as Carriere and not to spoil anything, but there’s some ironic correlations between the interactions between his and Wade’s characters at the conclusions of both shows. While on the subject of Gaston, must also mention his sidekick Lefou (Desmond Kingston), who takes a lot of hits but always bounces back.
Three other main reasons I hold ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in such high esteem is the song Gaston, which is very well done, including the choreography with the drinking cups. Number 2, is the title song, which Sutherland does so exquisitely. Lastly is ‘Be Our Guest’ which is probably the most extravagant musical number ever performed on the La Comedia stage. It’s a very spirited song and to see it done so well and with so much effort almost brought a tear to my eye, it’s such a feel good moment. Extra credit to Pendergrass and all the others involved.