Beauty and the Beast: A Review

Opening night of Disney's Beauty and the Beast on May 19 and what can I say? The dictionary tells us that an "entertainer" is a person who entertains, especially professionally on stage etc." And it says that to entertain is "to amuse: occupy agreeably."
I can't think of any better terms to describe what was presented in this great production of the Three Hills Arts Academy, with Sheila Adkins as the Director.
Acting, choreography, gymnastics, humour, magic, emotional responses, thought provoking; whatever you may count "entertainment" there were elements of it in this show.
You may be familiar with the story and the Disney movie version. I had seen it once some time ago, but not recalling it well enough to know what to expect. Therefore, I enjoyed it as a "fresh" presentation. The lines were new to me, so I could laugh or catch a pun, or appreciate a clever phrase, or get involved in the character development and plot as they happened. Overall it was just a great experience. One patron said that the "excitement" level experienced would probably mean she would have trouble getting to sleep afterwards.
Those of us who knew some of the players felt that Sheila had done an excellent job of casting them in their various roles. As in other productions, we come away from this one thinking we will always see in our mind this particular character played by this particular actor... or actress. Will we see this actor or actress without seeing this particular character?
Some very special "chemistry" (to use a Hollywood review type word) existed between some of the characters mainly because they were couples. Krista Ewert played the part of the leading lady Belle, to the leading male, Beast Ben Ewert. Jason Miller, (Lumiere) and Andi Miller (Babette) carried on admirably much to our delight. Luke Reinhardt as Gaston seemed "born for the part" and Jeff Gordon as Le Fou, couldn't have been a better fool. (Almost made me think of the line, "And all I have to do is act naturally," and that is offered as a compliment. )
Floyd Cotton, whether it was because he had the part of Cogsworth, or Cogsworth because he was played by Floyd Cotton, had us in stitches.
Likewise, Laura Ewert and Michael Ewert as Mrs. Potts and Chip, Tiffany Dietz as Mme Bouche, and Aaron Redditt as Maurice (father of Belle) had us drawn into their parts in a very believable way.
The choreography, and musical numbers were full energy and extremely well done, and a great display of talent. The other 23 cast members played multiple roles, some two and some three.
The costuming was "over the top" when you consider that it wasn't just an outfit per se, but with the wolves and the "utensils" or enchanted "items" meant some very creative constructions. The stage sets too, were "simple" but very effective and scene changes were affected simply (as far as the audience could tell) but completely transported us to whatever atmosphere was intended. (I thought the "forest" really "cool?".)
A few special effects were used and again an excellent job by the technicians, who also look after sound and lighting etc.
This year the production ended up being staged in the Curling Rink. While it has meant meeting some special challenges, (sharing the facility with the Farmers Market and needing to set up and take down to accommodate that) and the acoustics of a mostly metal building, the seating was comfortable and quite possibly a venue that could be considered again in the future. Although with a very heavy downpour just shortly after the show got under way, there was a bit of a challenge for the cast to make sure they were projecting well enough.
The programme handout proves very informative in giving us the biographical sketches, but also acknowledging the many sponsors and donors who made the show a reality and thanks to the other volunteers and production technicians, set designers, costumers etc.
If word of mouth hasn't already stirred up interest and produced a rush for ticket sales, (and ended in sold out performances) I would recommend that you take action now to buy your tickets before it is too late. Scheduled performances still to go are at 7:00 pm May 26-29 and a Saturday matinee for 2:00 pm . Tickets and additional information available at the Three Hills Arts Academy, 201 5th Ave. N. 403-443-7011 OR office@THAAS.ca, or online at www.THAAS.ca