The story of “Beauty and The Beast” has been told many times before and nobody did it better than Disney, that is until 3-D Theatricals. Yes, that is a bold statement coming from a loyal Disney fan but after seeing 3DT’s production of Tarzan and now Beauty and The Beast, I honestly believe they have a knack for re-imagining Disney musicals. But what is the key to their success? I recently asked publicist, Michael Sterling and his response was “It’s the promise of Artistic Director, T.J. Dawson, Co-Founder/Marketing Director, Gretchen Dawson and C0-Founder, Daniel Dawson to bring nothing but quality, style and excellence to southern CA regional theater. It’s what they do. It’s who they are.” Perhaps, it’s that passion that makes all the difference.
In the opening scene, we met a young prince who turns away an old, beggar woman at his palace doors. She warns him that looks can be deceiving but again he dismisses her. The beggar woman transforms herself into a beautiful enchantress and in return turns the prince into a hideous beast (Alexander Mendoza).
Next, we met a young woman named Belle (Afton Quast). Her love for reading makes the townspeople think she’s a bit odd. As she strolls around the town square, we meet the egotistical Gaston (Cameron Boyd) and his bumbling sidekick, Lefou (Robert Ramirez). Gaston is trying to win the affections of Belle, to no avail.
When Belle arrives home, her father, Maurice (Norman Large) is set to leave for the inventors fair. Before he does Belle hands him a scarf to wear. On his journey, Maurice gets lost in the forest and finds himself being chased by a pack of wolves. He stumbles upon a castle and enters seeking refuge. Inside, he’s greeted by a number of enchanted objects including a debonair candelabra named Lumiere (Dennis Kyle), a tightly-wound mantle clock, named Cogsworth (Joey D’Auria) and a maternal teapot, named Mrs. Potts (Tracy Lore). The Beast is enraged by his visitor and declares Maurice his prisoner.
Belle knows her father is in danger when she sees Lefou wearing her fathers scarf. She rushes off to find him. At the castle, Belle tries to free her father but The Beast refuses to let him go. Out of desperation, Belle agrees to be his prisoner in exchange for her father’s freedom and Maurice is then set free.
The Beast is enthralled by Belle, however, she wants nothing to do with him. With a little help from his enchanted servants, The Beast receives a makeover and is soon transformed into a more civilized, mild tempered beast. Over time, Belle starts to realize they have a lot in common and begins to fall for him.
The sets, provided by Gateway Productions were both innovative and creative making the best use of space on stage. The Beasts castle revolved 360-degrees and housed the various living quarters including the library, bedroom, kitchen and of course the west wing, containing the enchanted rose.
With music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Disney’s Beauty and The Beast features some of the most beloved songs including the opening number, “Belle,” the rousing, “Gaston,” the showstopper, “Be Our Guest” and of course the title song, “Beauty and The Beast.”
Alexander Mendoza (The Beast) is a true star. He embodied the raw, fierce emotion of the beast while capturing his tenderness as well. Additionally, the amazing prosthetic piece that Mendoza wore certainly did not compromise his beautiful vocals which held its own in “If I Can’t Love Her.”
Afton Quast (Belle) was absolutely charming as the small-town girl looking for big adventures. Quast also doesn’t hold anything back in the musical number “A Change in Me,” which was not in the original Broadway production but later added and thankfully so, as it showcased her amazing vocal range.
Cameron Boyd (Gaston) was born to play this role! He is handsome, larger than life and hilariously funny to boot. Boyd, alongside, Robert Ramirez (Lefou) stole the spotlight in every scene they were in. Their slapstick was pure genius with every punch, fall and flip meticulously choreographed for the stage!
Tracy Lore (Mrs. Potts) was excellent as the motherly teapot, however, she was a bit overshadowed by the performers with more comedic roles including, Melina Kalomas (Babette) and Bree Murphy (Madame de la Grande Bouche). Dennis Kyle (Lumiere) and Joey D’Auria (Cogsworth) also did an excellent job playing the Master’s servant and butler respectively.
3-D Theatricals present Disney’s Beauty and The Beast concluded it’s run at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center this past weekend. If you missed it, don’t fret, they will be bringing another Broadway-caliber production to Orange County/Los Angeles with The Full Monty starting April 15, 2016. For ticket information contact the box office at 714-589-2770 or visit their website at 3dtheatricals.org.