The Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts took the stage Friday night to tell a tale as old as time with a beautiful presentation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, a musical based on the movie produced by Disney.
The Beast, played by Derek Walton, is a former prince who was punished for his horrible attitude towards others. A witch casts a spell on him that turns him into a terrible beast and all of his servants into enchanted objects. To break the spell, he has to fall in love with someone, and they have to love him back. Enter Belle: a beautiful provincial towns person with a love of books (played by Iliana Taormina). After being courted by the town favorite, Gaston (played by Shafiq Hicks), her father Maurice (played by William Sander), gets lost in the woods and it is Belle who goes searching for him, only to find herself at the Beast's castle. In exchange for her father's freedom, Belle promises the Beast that she will stay with him forever. And thus, a tragic story begins. Derek Walton's portrayal of the Beast was flawless. The mannerisms, vocalizations, and costumes were both lifelike and believable. Iliana Taormina channeled her inner Disney princess to put on a great show for
all audience members. Sitting in the house seats, it was as if you'd been transported to Disney World.
Another notable performance was that of Kevin Guzman who played Gaston's minion, Lefou. Guzman's performance was impeccable. His voice and mannerisms were very believable and authentic and he was always in character, even when he was just in the background. Guzman brought both laughter and applause to the performance with his portrayal of the wimpy and adorable Lefou. Ashley Catanzaro, who played Mrs. Potts, also gave a very nice performance. Catanzaro brought a beautiful voice to a beautiful story. Other notable performances came from Tyler Pinder-Hudson, who played Lumiere, one of the Beast's servants who had been turned into a candelabra and Rameek Ashmore, who played the master of the house, an enchanted clock named Cogsworth. Pinder-Hudson and Ashmore had amazing on stage chemistry and their relationship kept the audience in stitches.
The show encompassed a wide variety of dancing, which was very well designed and executed. All of the numbers were very clear and easy to hear, and the energy onstage kept the show running smoothly, coupled with the very well rehearsed CAPA orchestra. The orchestrations added the flair of France to this timeless story.
Costuming was also very well done. Beautiful gowns were constructed, and lifelike props, such as the huge dinner utensils used during Be Our Guest, created the magical aura that is Disney.
Beauty and the Beast was not a show to miss, and definitely a story worth hearing again. The cast and crew left the audience with dropped jaws and teary eyes.