top of page

7/6/2024        BEAUTY AND THE BEAST            Lolek’s Storytellers


pgm 0706b B and B (1).jpg

Let's be honest here.  There is probably no one left who doesn't know Disney's Beauty and the Beast, who wouldn't recognize its characters through a blindfold, who couldn't "Name that Song" within three notes.  2017’s "Live Action(*)" movie, the theatrical "expansion," the plethora of local productions of the musical, and of course, the bajillion VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix-Download, Disney-Plus Streaming copies that have found their way into virtually every home in the world, guarantee that everyone knows this story.


And everyone has opinions about one-version-or-another.  "Emma Watson can't sing!"  "The Movie cut my favorite song!"  "The stage songs are just filler!"  There is something wrong about every version, and every viewer has their own "absolutely correct" notion of what that "something wrong" is.


Which brings me to local community newcomer Lolek’s Storyteller’s about-to-close production.  I can hear the quibbling already.  "The tracks aren't live!"  "The Beast is too short!"  "Lumiere and Cogsworth are too tall!" "The magic is lame!"  "There are too many songs!"  "The show is too long!"  "The Final Battle is too lame!" “The wolves are too large!”


But you know what I took from this show?  A three-hour musical that held in rapt attention it's largely family-of-the-cast audience with nary a rustle, nary a squeal, nary an ADD outburst.  FOR ALMOST THREE HOURS!  What chance do cynical quibbles have against that kind of appeal?

And that, my friends, is the Triumph of Story, the miracle of a familiar tale well-told, the genius of a musical with some songs Know-By-Heart familiar, others I-Never-Heard-That-Before new.


Yes, it's true that I don't love this stage version as much as I loved the original movie (and I STILL love the original animated movie).  The scale-of-size is too off to work optimally   The songs added do occasionally act more as "filler" that brings the show to a crawl, particularly the Act One "Me" by Gaston and "Home" by Belle.


OTOH, I think the Beast's new Act One ender "If I can't Love Her" is a song of passion and beauty (and "Boo" to the 2017 movie for cutting it) as is Belle's Act Two "A Change in Me."  And, when we see the Beast transform, live on stage enveloped by flashing lights and stage smoke, it is pure magic.


And, let me repeat, this production is nothing if not the celebration of the Triumph of the Story!


It helps that for a new company and volunteer cast, there is some towering talent on view, particularly Brittany Kicker’s Belle and Jacob Faile’s Beast.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we soon see these folks in shows not-so-volunteer.  As Gaston, Hans Severson has a Basso voice that is positively riveting.  And Samantha Kuzian gives us a Mrs. Potts that is pure comfort-food.


It also helps that this cast is ENORMOUS.  Every inch of the Marietta Performing Arts Center’s vast stage is completely filled for the big group numbers – “Be Must Guest” was especially a joy to watch with its athletic choreography (by Erika Fasselt) and its somersaulting carpets and dishes.


Okay, if the set has some questionable “looks” – Belle and her father’s house initially look like the BACK of another set – it nevertheless makes efficient use of what is no doubt a minimal budget and adjusts seamlessly from scene to scene, making the most of multiple levels and sky-high platforms.


Yes, it is true I rolled my eyes often at some of the just-off-key performances, at the distorted sound that (almost) ruins a few of my favorite numbers, at some of the costume choices for the enchanted castle dwellers, at the “Mob Song” that seems to consist of the enormous cast simply chasing each other around the stage, and at the lame (ish) conclusion of the Beast’s battle with the wolves.  But, for the most part, I was impressed by the level of talent on display and the clever choices made by director Dani Dickinson.


Beauty and the Beast is an always-welcome show, one that can be (and usually is) enjoyed numerous times, and Lolek’s Storytellers does it justice.


And, to be blunt, any production that can hold the attentions of this many families for this long, is doing SOMETHING right and commendable.


You are hereby well-advised to find the time to "Be our Guest" for this afternoon’s final performance and the Triumph of the Art of the Story!


            --  Brad Rudy  (  #LoleksStortytellers  #BeautyAndTheBeast  #BeOurGuest)

*  For a "Live Action" movie, it seemed to rely a little too much on CGI, which looked fairly stiff and unconvincing to me.  But I digress ...

bottom of page