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09May

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Heritage High School, Leesburg, Virginia, May 5, 2018

Diana Witt

Westfield High School

 

Tie a napkin ‘round your neck, sit back, relax and be whisked away to the fantastical world of "a tale as old as time," where forks belt out familiar tunes and spoons showcase spirited dance moves. With mystical technical elements and heartfelt performances, Heritage High School's delightful production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast captivated the audience until the last petal of the enchanted rose fell.

 

Based on the 1991 film of the same title, Disney's Beauty and Beast is a musical by Linda Woolverton with music and lyrics by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice. Premiering on Broadway in 1994, the stage production originally received mixed reviews from critics. It ended up becoming Broadway's tenth longest running show, closing after a whopping 5,461 performances.

 

After a spell left a handsome prince with a grotesque appearance, the Beast is confined to a solitary life in the castle. His servants too were transformed - taking on inhuman forms. To reverse the enduring curse, he must get someone to accept him as he is. When a beautiful and intelligent girl arrives at the castle, he must soften his rough exterior to get her to fall in love with him before it's too late.

 

Covered in a coat of thick brown fur, the hairy and hideous Beast (Nick Trusty) commanded the stage with his dominating persona. At first a hot-headed, short-tempered monster, Trusty showed a remarkable transformation - exposing a tender humanity beneath his vile and villainous appearance. Softened by love, he learned to assuage his rage and act selflessly. Lyndsay Snider captured the essence of a Disney princess in her portrayal of the bookish, yet gorgeous Belle. Dreaming of escaping from her "poor provincial life," her imaginative spirit is ignited by the adventures in her story books. Snider delicately balanced Belle's sweet charm with her outspoken tenacity. She exhibited a smooth soprano voice in touching solos.

 

Determined to marry Belle, Austin Richardson gave an admirable performance as the "boorish, brainless" Gaston. Alongside Gaston was his foolish sidekick, LeFou, portrayed with playful wit by Nick Farro. With unwavering wishes to be "human again," the Beast's servants, the enchanted household objects, provided an element of whimsy. As the charismatic maître d', Lumiere, Gökçe Necioglu welcomed Belle to the castle with his vocal prowess and polished dance skill in his toe-tapping musical number "Be Our Guest." Another standout performer was the opera singer turned wardrobe, Madame de la Grande Bouche (Allie Anderson). Displaying impeccable comedic timing, Anderson embodied the bold prim donna. The cast was completed by an energetic ensemble, who performed complicated choreography with animated facial expressions.

 

Brilliant technical effects emanated a flair of Disney magic. A variety of vibrant set pieces adorned the stage, transporting the audience to different settings. A vivid autumnal backdrop exuded the natural feel of the woods, while twinkling night stars illuminated the grand ballroom. Lights flashed and rolling fog billowed out onto the stage during moments of mystique. Student choreographers Lindsey Griffen and Lyndsay Snider demonstrated a commendable use of stage space with unique formations. They implemented challenging dance techniques, such as a rhythmic tap sequence and amazing acrobatic tricks in sharp and entertaining production numbers.

 

Granted with their human form again, the inhabitants of the castle gleefully celebrate the broken spell and the newfound romance of Belle and the Prince. Cultivating the magic of love, Heritage High School's talented, committed actors and eye-catching design features were "certain as sun" in their whimsical production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.


Marieska Luzada

Dominion High School

 

With a great bonjour and enchanté comes "something there" in Heritage High School's production of "Beauty and the Beast."  With dancing silverware, tumbling townspeople, and singing furniture, Heritage High School's production of the Disney classic is deemed unforgettable.

 

Based on the 1991 animated film of the same name, "Beauty and the Beast" follows a peculiar and book-loving girl named Belle as she meets a Beast while searching for her inventor father.  With a limited amount of time to break the Beast's spell, Belle must combat the provincial life to be with the one she loves.  With music composed by Alan Menken and lyrics written by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, the Disney musical ensues romance, tragedy, conflict, and amusement with memorable characters and an unforgettable love story. 

 

Heritage High School made the magic and imagination of "Beauty and the Beast" come to life on its very stage.  Energy was sustained throughout the entire show, especially throughout group numbers such as the jaw-dropping, choreography-heavy "Be Our Guest."  Each character expressed emotion and rawness into their voices to make themselves relatable and realistic to the audience rather than creating a barrier between reality and fantasy.

 

Lyndsay Snider, who played everyone's favorite bibliophile Belle, added multiple dimensions to the iconic character by incorporating thoughtful and complex characterization to make herself seem real and credible for her gradual connection with the Beast (played by Nick Trusty).  Trusty portrayed heavy emotion under the anger that the Beast stereotypically presents, which makes him more raw and vulnerable to the audience.  The chemistry seen between Trusty and Snider was consistent throughout the show to stay true to the romantic atmosphere of the animated movie with the "tale as old as time."

 

Without its quirky and spontaneous supporting cast members, "Beauty and the Beast" would not be one for the books.  Austin Richardson and Nick Farro (who played Gaston and LeFou, respectively) had perfect comedic timing while carrying energy throughout the show as the main antagonists of the plot.  Additionally, the ensemble of the household furniture (such as Lumiere played by Gokce Necioglu, Cogsworth played by Alex Eichert, and Mrs. Potts played by Gabi Gray) maintained a duality between humanity and their perception as objects to convey a realness and sense of emotion within them.  Subtle movements and gestures also contributed to their accurate portrayals as objects.

 

The crew of "Beauty and the Beast" did an amazing job bringing the story to life with attention to detail to the makeup, special effects, and sets.  The makeup for the Beast and the household furniture was well done so that there is still the element of humanity within all of them.  Effects such as the flashing lights and the fog machines contributed to the magic incorporated into the show in setting the eerie yet mystifying mood of the story.  Transitions between each scene were very smooth and each background stayed true to the Disney classic with complex set designs and subtle details on props such as the Enchanted Mirror.

 

Overall, Heritage High School's production of "Beauty and the Beast" brought joy to the eyes of both young and old with their reminiscence of the classic film while introducing new concepts to make the timeless story more enjoyable than ever before.  Almost anyone who came to their production loved being their guest.

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