- 1 of 3 Photos | View More Photos
Tale as old as time, indeed.
The story of "Beauty and the Beast" just never gets old, and the summer production of the Disney musical at Dynamics Community Theater in Tallmadge was the most recent evidence.
Directed by Jack Ballentyne, with musical direction by Christine Stewart, the show featured a talented orchestra and a cast of more than 50. It was an entertaining and charming production, with a lot of heart.
Matt Rondini (Beast) and Kelley Wheelock (Belle) had strong chemistry in the lead roles. Wheelock has a lovely, pure singing voice, a prerequisite for the role.
Christopher Brown had a lot of fun as the villainous Gaston. The physical contrast between Gaston and Belle (Brown towers over Wheelock and appears about twice her size) helped capture the feel of the animated 1991 Disney classic even more.
Jonas Lawrence as Gaston's lackey, LeFou, was a scene-stealer every time he was on stage. Ryan M. Dyke (Lumiere), Cody Stanley (Cogsworth), Karlise Starr Brown (Wardrobe) and Jennifer Walmsley Matas (Mrs. Potts) gave fun, standout performances too. As Chip Potts, Lilly Wagner was absolutely adorable.
The scenes with the full cast on stage, particularly near the end of the second act when they became an angry mob, created the sense of an entire community.
There was a moment late in the show where Belle and the Beast were center stage with Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Chip surrounding them, when I thought, "This is it. This is 'Beauty and the Beast.'" Everything about the scene -- the costumes, the music, the set -- made the whole audience feel like they had entered the world of a fairy tale. It was a great moment!
But first and foremost this was a terrific show for kids, the most important people in the audience. Many children attended with their parents and some even dressed up like the Disney characters to get into the spirit. The actors were swamped afterward in the Tallmadge High School cafeteria by youngsters wanting pictures and autographs, and a chance to talk to Belle and the Beast.
Tallmadge Express Account Executive Fred Carter attended the July 24 show with his daughter Star, and noted that she "already wants to know when we can see another show. I couldn't have asked for a better show to introduce her to theater."