Chicago Shakespeare Theater has built its reputation on
excellent quality productions reflecting Shakespeare's love of
storytelling, language and human emotion.
That has carried that through to its Family Series as well. When
I learned that CST chose to premiere the 70-minute version of
Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" for the summer children's show, I
was unsure how it fit the mission. However, after seeing this
beautiful production, I'm more convinced than ever that CST is a
best bet for families.
With a cast of only 16 people, they managed to provide the feel
of a full-scale Broadway musical. Outstanding voices and swift
choreography set the mood. Dynamic costumes and an ever-changing
set complete with computer-animated graphics bring the enchanted
world of Belle and Beast to life.
In fact, the scenes in the forest with wolves attacking and fog
rolling through were so realistic that some young audience members
cried out to leave. That's certainly testament to human
Emily Rohm is perfect as the inquisitive, feisty and beautiful
Belle. She brings something fresh to the well-known character,
captivating the young girls in the audience. William Travis Taylor
(Beast) and Jake Klinkhammer (Gaston) provide the perfect
counterparts in the quest for her love. Klinkhammer makes Gaston's
smarmy and conceited villain the show's comic relief. Taylor has
the challenge of conveying Beast's emotional journey through an
intricate mask and mass of beastly hair. Using his voice and body
language, he succeeds.
Once again, director Rachel Rockwell keeps the pace of the show
and its ensemble members moving quickly. She milks the comedy, but
doesn't shy away from the romance inherent in the story. My
10-year-old son thought there were "too many slow songs" but,
judging by the reaction of the audience, he was in the
Girls and boys alike were lined up in the lobby after the show
for their chance to get an autograph from, and picture with, some
of the actors.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.
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