By ROGER SMITH - For the Star Beacon
CLEVELAND — It is billed as being a part of the Broadway Series, but “Beauty and the Beast” as it appears on the stage of the Palace Theater in PlayhouseSquare is not Broadway/Disney quality as would be expected in The Big Apple, but more of a production that will please the little girls in costumes who come with their parents to see the show.
Yet, there is something somewhat magical as the pages of this story unfold and turn. Opening night found an appreciative audience of folks who may not have had the opportunity to see the Broadway production, and the applause was thunderous.
What one will find on stage is a colorful provincial village, as well as the door to the castle that appears behind a scrim when there is need to enter the castle. The castle sets are moveable, and they work well. All in all, the technical portions of the show work well.
There were some very bright spots in the Palace production. The characters of Cogsworth, Lumiere and Mrs. Potts were very entertaining as they joined forces to point the Beast in the direction of love so that the magic spells cast on them could be broken. Gaston was especially entertaining as he portrayed the role of the antagonist. The Beast was quite moving as he moved through the range of emotions he worked hard to control so that he might impress the lovely Belle.
Though Belle the Beauty in the title had a nice voice, she quite often telegraphed and overacted her onstage movements. The same certainly can be written about Lefou, the sidekick to Gaston.
Research indicates that this show has been somewhat minimized in order to cut down on extravagant production and travel costs, thereby cutting down not only on ticket costs, but sets and costumes, as well. However, at the end of the almost 3-hour night, the show is still entertaining as it tells the story of how love conquers all.
“Beauty and the Beast” helps to celebrate the 90th birthday of PlayhouseSquare as part of the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio entertainment scene. The show runs through Nov. 18. Tickets may be purchased by visiting www.playhousesquare.org or by phoning the box office at866-546-1353.