Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is loved as much today as it was 25 years ago; when the movie was originally released. Today, girls who grew up wanting to be Belle are introducing their daughters and nieces to the bookish young woman, her inventor father Maurice, the town meathead Gaston, the ghastly Beast, and a house full of enchanted objects.
Opening last Friday at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time and a timeless tale at that. Ruthanne Heyward is the bookish Belle who befriends the Beast and wards off Gaston’s advances. Aleks Knezevich is Gaston, the narcissistic town intimidator who only has eyes for Belle and Daniel S. Hines is Lefou; Gaston’s bumbling sidekick. The pairing of these two actors in this comedy-duo role is flawless; their physical comedy, timing and chemistry is spot on. Then there is Robert O. Berdahl as the Beast. His range in this role is unlimited. He transitions effortlessly from ghastly beast to mild mannered guy with a crush back to a freighting beast and handsome prince. His attempts at winning Belle’s affections are heartwarming.
As expected the show stopping number is “Be Our Guest”. Lead by Mark King’s Lumiere; the enchanted household objects come to life to perform for their houseguest, Belle. Choreographer Tamara Kangas-Erickson’s choreography for this number is delightful. The entire cast is completely captivating during this number. You can’t help but smile and tap your foot. Another scene which deserves to be mentioned is the tavern scene where the townspeople sing “Gaston”. Again, Kangas-Erickson’s choreography is exceptional in this number.
Chanhassen’s production of Beauty and the Beast is the perfect night out for a couple, a group of friends or a family. The whole production is gorgeously performed, directed, choreographed, costumed and set designed. It is truly a magical night of theater.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is playing at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres through September 24. For more information on the show or to purchase tickets, visit their website.