We’ve been talking for several months about Jonesborough Repertory Theatre’s presentation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and it is finally here! We told you early on that tickets would be hard to get, and they have been. In a perfect world we would have been able to catch a performance before now, but theatre goers in the area know a good thing when it comes along and we had to take the first available seats we could get!
Beauty and the Beast was made famous in 1991 when Disney presented their animated version of this classic French fairy tale filled with lovable characters and memorable music. In recent years, Beauty has regained popularity when it was announced that a live action motion picture was being produced. The film spawned a major revival of the stage adaptation with performances by schools, community theatres, and other performance groups. JRT is just one of multiple groups in the NE Tennessee/SW Virginia area whi were lucky enough to be granted permissions to add this title to their calendar for this year and their execution was very near flawless.
There are a few key elements that people will look at when trying to gauge the ‘success’ of a presentation of Beauty. These tend to include: Belle, the Beast, Gaston, the rose, the main trio of enchanted objects, and (of course) Belle’s ballgown. JRT has done a spectacular job executing each of these in terms of casting, performance, costuming, and props. Each of the cast members brought their characters to life with great eases and believability. The ensemble of villagers and various enchanted objects were just as lively and engaging as the principal characters. Brittany Whitson (Belle) lights up the stage with a warmth that cannot be described in text and Joe Gumina (Beast) puts a life in the Beast that is not so much terrifying as it is that of a child who grew up misunderstood and frightened of himself and the world around him. While not as “beefy” as one may expect, Lucas Schmidt as Gaston is everything you could want for attitude, comedic timing, and vocal quality and his faithful sidekick, LeFou (Jacob Maurer), was a star in his own right playing perfectly off of each moment for maximum audience reaction. The principal trio of enchanted objects, Mrs. Potts (Kari Tuthill), Lumiere (Corey Tickles), and Cogsworth (Derek Smithpeters), were impeccable. Tuthill’s cheerful voice, genuine smile, and infectious laughter draw you in to each tender moment, particularly those with her young son, Chip (Lucas Boyle). Tickels’ womanizing ways and playful banter are a sharp contrast to Smithpeters’ by-the-book philosphy and lead to many amusing encounters.
If I could change one thing about this production, it would simply be the venue. JRT has so much talent at its disposal, all they need now is a space in which they can truly showcase all that they have to offer the theatre goers of our area. Don’t get me wrong, I am BEYOND impressed with what they are able to accomplish where they are but in the back of my mind I picture what a JRT production would be like if they had an opportunity to perform on a stage twice the size of what they have now. Can you even imagine?
Visit the website as quickly as possible and do your best to snatch up some tickets, if you can. The acting, the singing, the dancing, the costumes…you really need to experience it all for yourself.