Theatre Review: ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’ at Theatre in the Mist

Today I saw a matinee of “Disney’s Beauty and The Beast,” produced by Theatre in the Mist and Cornerstone Community FCU at Niagara Falls High School. Music is by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and the book is by Linda Woolverton. This is the Broadway musical version of “Beauty and The Beast,” based on the Disney cartoon.

. . .a lavish, visually arresting production. . .

“Beauty and the Beast” is a fairy tale about a selfish prince who is transformed into a beast. When the beautiful young woman who he holds prisoner falls in love with him, the spell is broken. Hopefully, that’s not a spoiler for you! All of these fairy tales end happily ever after!

In the title roles, Jenny McCabe is a sweet and lovely Belle and Gary Andrews-Stieglitz has the perfect voice for the Beast.

Dave Spychalski’s fine, deep baritone is put to good use as Gaston, and Corey Bieber is high spirited as a cartwheeling LeFou. They’re the production’s big crowd pleasers.

There are energetic performances by Tim Stuff, Christopher Teal, Kristin Gelia, Kathleen A. Recchione, Milo Boccinfuso, and Sara Kovacs as the objects who want to become human again. I was relieved when they all became human and Mrs. Potts could finally take her arm out of that big spout!

Also worthy of mention are Dr. Jerry Mosey who has tender moments as Belle’s father, the five Silly Girls, and seven charming cancan dancers who turn up from time to time in the production numbers. Jacob Aguglia convincingly plays a bad guy, Christina Palermo is the beautiful enchantress, and Justin Ciccone is the handsome young prince.

There’s a lively seven piece orchestra led by Dave Recchione and a large, well trained chorus of about 50 men, women, teens, and kids. The children are a delightful addition except in the tavern scene where watching 10 year olds down tankards is a bit disconcerting!

This is a lavish, visually arresting production with bold and colorful lighting by Reuben Schwartz and scores of sumptuous, fanciful costumes by Adam M. Wall and DC Theatricks. My favorite costumes were the vanity which included practical drawers and, of course, Belle’s butter yellow ball gown. The sets by Ryan Scarfone and Lite Trix are outstanding and these are easily the most beautiful backdrops I’ve seen in a local theatre production in years.

This isn’t one of those watered down for community theatre versions of a Broadway show. This is a full out production with every note of dance music and every reprise intact.

With the sets, costumes, wigs, and huge chorus, this is a massive undertaking. It moves along smoothly and impressively under the skillful direction of Joey Bucheker.  Mr. Bucheker is assisted by Emily Pici and the choreography is by Clarissa Maloy.

Incidentally, I asked two children from the audience what their favorite thing about the show was and they both said, “I like the dancing!” so kudos to Mr. Bucheker, Ms. Pici, and Ms. Maloy for their staging of the musical numbers.

After the show, stick around for an added treat! The actors appear in costume in the lobby and are glad to pose for photos with their young fans.

Running Time: 2 Hours 30 minutes with one-15 Minute Intermission.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” runs until November 4, 2017 and is presented by Theatre in the Mist at The Performing Arts Center at Niagara Falls High School. For more information, click here.