QMT production Beauty & the Beast enchants at Theological Hall

Disney classic shows the importance of freedom in the search for happiness

Beauty and the Beast opened in the Rotunda Theatre in Theological Hall on Jan. 15.
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“Be our guest,” sings Queen’s Musical Theatre’s cast of Beauty and the Beast. The timeless story is the latest productiontaken on by the campus group.

The production was opened to audiences on Jan. 15 in the Rotunda Theatre in Theological Hall and will end on Jan. 25, with a special sensory-sensitive performance offered on Jan. 18 for audience members with light and sound restrictions and disabilities. 

Set in France, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a selfish prince transformed into a terrifying beast as punishment for his arrogance. Belle, a young woman from the nearby village, agrees to live in the Beast's castle for the rest of her life to secure her father's freedom. In order to regain his humanity, the Beast needs to learn how to love and be loved by Belle before the last petal falls from his enchanted rose.

Beauty and the Beast explores the power of love and kindness and the importance of freedom in the search for happiness through lively ensemble performances from the villagers. This is clearest through songs like the upbeat “Belle” at the beginning of the show, and emotional solo ballads, like Mrs. Potts’ sweet rendition of “Tale as Old as Time.”

The campus production—based on the original book and lyrics by Linda Woolverton and music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman—is directed by Eric Rodomar (ArtSci ‘20) and produced by Jordan Pike (ArtSci ‘21).

Because the story of Beauty and the Beast is so well-known, Rodomar acknowledged part of the challenge in bringing it to the stage was balancing the audience’s expectations with their own ideas and interpretations of the material.

In an interview with The Journal, the director said that he believes the show “manages to satisfy the needs of the script and faithfully recreate the well-known story, while maintaining its own unique identity, charm, and humour.”

According to Pike, they faced challenges when selecting costumes. For the lead characters, Belle and the Beast’s costumes appear to have been directly pulled from the original animated film adaption. The costumes for other characters, however, are notable for how they’ve been tailored to suit the theatrical medium.

“The imagery of the costumes is iconic, so we treaded a very thin line between paying homage to those images, while making them our own,” Pike said.

Cogsworth and Lumière, the Beast’s former butler and servant who were turned into a mantle clock and a candelabra respectively, are supposed to resemble household objects. The costume designer, Tara Raftery, had to create costumes that were both representative of the original story and comfortable for the actors. Lumière’s candlestick hands were a definite highlight, which, when matched with his French accent and typical flirtatious confidence, made the character feel true to the traditional portrayal.

With an unchanging background on the set, the task fell on the ensemble cast and a handful of key props to bring their world to life. Major scenes, such as the notoriously bawdy performance of “Gaston” in the local tavern, succeeded with the help of the actors’ enthusiasm and heavy choreography, featuring a backdrop of a collection of beer mugs and a lounge chair mounted with deer antlers. The intimate atmosphere of the Rotunda maximizes these efforts to fill the space, because the audience is seated so close to the stage that it’s easy to feel as though they’re an active part of the narrative.

Reflecting on the show, Pike said, “Beauty and the Beast has created such an incredible community at Queen’s. We have students from Engineering, Commerce, and Computer Science, from all different years, coming together over a shared love for the sacred art that is theatre.”

 

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