Blair players bring a tale as old as time to light
For every little girl who ever watched Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" and promptly dragged her mother to the Disney Store in search of a yellow sparkling dress identical to that of her princess idol, reliving the beloved childhood classic on stage years later is a dream come true. Too much pressure for a high school production? Apparently not for directors Kelly O'Connor and Miriam Plotinsky who captained the Blair production of the stage adaptation of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." Opening with an attendance-office blowing sold-out show, the cast and crew gave the audience a true happily ever after.
In the castle, servants turned into inanimate household objects by the Beast's curse are hopeful that Belle is the one destined to fall in love with the Beast and break the curse on their transforming exteriors. After a rocky start with Belle and Beast's clashing personalities, the pair begin to develop a friendship that goes beyond outer beauty, and may, in fact, save them both.
Old and new faces and voices grace the Blair stage in this production. For her first and last Blair musical, Or's pure soprano captivated the audience from beginning to end, and her strong acting throughout paired with Visscher's kept the show engaging. Visscher gave an inspired performance, capturing the aggressive fury of the beast through his acting, as well as his characters' vulnerable sensitivity in solos such as "How Long Must This Go On?" and "If I Can't Love Her."
Though spectacular, the leads were complimented by several strong supporting performances, such as senior Francesca Blume, as the hospitable and cheery Mrs. Potts. Blume's rendition of "Beauty and the Beast" was reminiscent of the beloved Disney cartoon version. Junior Russell Ottalini, as Lumiere, and sophomore Annie Milligan, as Babette, added energy and sensual comedic relief, and really must be recognized for maintaining French accents throughout the show.
These musical numbers, though visually amazing, would be nothing without the reliable performance of Blair's pit orchestra. Directed by Dustin Doyle, the pit played with such ease, revealing extensive rehearsal, that one can assume that these musicians also dig Disney tunes.
Despite a few minor technical malfunctions, the stage crew really outdid itself this year with set and light design and special effects which merited audible "oohs and awes" from the dazzled crowd. Each of the various settings, from the interior of the castle, to the woods, to the village street, were each impressively and accurately represented. The castle, complete with two flights of stairs and stained glass windows, was the site for the seamless and mystifying transformations from man to beast and beast to man at the beginning and end of the production.
Though the cast performed the Disney adaptation of the musical, true to form, O'Connor managed to throw in dramatic symbolism, most notably by representing the rose as ballet dancer junior Laura Boyer. Even though connections to modern times are few and far between, watch out for a guest appearance of the "bend and snap," bound to catch your eye even if it couldn't catch Gaston's.
Taking on a beloved, wide-scale production such as "Beauty and the Beast" may have been a risk, but it was one worth taking. This year, be Blair's guest to a musical which is bound to be beautiful start to finish, in the eye of any beholder.
Josie Callahan. Josie Callahan is particularly opinionated despite her small appearance. She loves everything Irish and her life is consumed by her one true love- Irish Dancing- which suits her just fine. She also adores British accents, performing, theatre, tiaras, and sparkly dresses. Josie is particularly excited ... More »