Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 6, 2018

REVIEW: Opera House Players, Beauty and the Beast

Opera House Players, Enfield, CT
Through November 25, 2018
by Michael J. Moran

In her “Director’s Notes” for the OHP production of “Beauty and the Beast,” Becca Coolong attributes the continuing appeal of this “tale as old as time,” most recently retold in two Disney films and this popular Broadway musical, to the fact that it’s “a story of hope, of love, and of acceptance.” Her diverse cast of 30 singing actors, including a Beast with dreadlocks, brings it to colorful and affecting life.

With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton, the story has two settings. The first is a medieval French village, where the bookish Belle (“Beauty”) and her artist father Maurice are regarded with curiosity by other townsfolk. The other is a nearby castle, where a prince has been transformed into a Beast for his selfishness and his servants are gradually turning into household objects. To recover his and their humanity, the Beast must learn to love Belle. 

Kaite Corda is a radiant Belle, with a gorgeous singing voice and acting chops to match. Frank Cannizzo’s Maurice is a dignified and doting father. While less impressive than his co-star, Silk Johnson's "the Beast" has perhaps the show’s most poignant moment, when he releases Belle from captivity to find her lost father. Tim Reilly plays the self-important ladies’ man Gaston with hilariously over-the-top swagger, and Harper Laino is a hoot as his obsequious henchman LeFou.

Kaite Corda & Tim Reilly
Musical highlights include: Reilly’s exuberant celebration of himself, “Gaston;” a joyous “Be Our Guest,” as Michael Graham Morales’ suave Lumiere and the Beast’s servants welcome Belle to his castle; a lovely “Beauty and the Beast” from Stevie Norman’s warm-hearted Mrs. Potts; and Erin Dugan’s Madame de la Grande Bouche deliciously nailing a coloratura Mozart aria passage.

Resourceful set design by Francisco Aguas allows for seamless transitions between the two settings, and musical director Devon Bakum’s four-member ensemble sound deceptively larger and consistently spot on. Inventive choreography by Krista Brueno, ingenious costume design by Moonyean Field, and Coolong’s skillful use of off-stage space at the company’s temporary home in the Enfield Annex (formerly Fermi High School) further enhance this entertaining production.