Magical ‘Beauty and the Beast’ at La Comedia

Stephanie Windland (Belle) and the cast of La Comedia Dinner Theatre’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which continues through Aug. 20 in Springboro. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

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Stephanie Windland (Belle) and the cast of La Comedia Dinner Theatre’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which continues through Aug. 20 in Springboro. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The tale as old as time returns to our area once more as La Comedia Dinner Theatre presents composer Alan Menken, lyricist Howard Ashman, lyricist Tim Rice, and librettist Linda Woolverton’s 1994 Tony Award-winning musical Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” through Sunday, Aug. 20.

Last produced by La Comedia in 2008 and based on the 1991 Academy Award-winning animated film of the same name, the family-friendly “Beauty and the Beast” tells a charming story of love, forgiveness and tolerance. A handsome prince cursed by a witch’s spell is forever changed by Belle, a young woman from a provincial town he holds captive. As the Beast and Belle grow closer, hope fills the enchanted castle but the villainous Gaston, a conceited huntsman infatuated with Belle, stands in their way.

“The main journey, the main story, of Belle and the Beast is so sweet,” said director/choreographer Chris Beiser. “But here at La Comedia, we’ve particularly tried to match the (look and feel) of the original Broadway production as close as possible on our stage. The set is huge and certainly one of the biggest to ever appear on our stage. The costumes are magnificent as well. The show is a beautiful spectacle but it also has a great story.”

“The theme of the show is seeing past someone’s exterior and seeing their true interior,” added scenic designer/transformation designer Matthew J. Evans, who says his research included the aforementioned animated film as well as Louis Quinze’s French Rococo decorative arts style and numerous images from the 18th century which the original fairy tale was written.

“There is a lot of (this theme) reflected in the design concept through the use of stage machinery, theatrical curtains, costumes, and lighting. There were several meetings with costume designer A.T. Jones and lighting designer Geoffrey Fishburn on combining the concepts of the all-important task of making the cartoons environment convincing for live performance. There is a lot of ‘theatrical magic’ happening on stage, and one person is not responsible for making that happen. For the show to be successful every night, it takes collaboration between the lighting, audio, stage hands, stage management, and special effects.”

The terrific score includes film favorites “Belle,” “Gaston,” “Be Our Guest,” and the splendid title tune as well as new tunes such as “Home,” “If I Can’t Love Her,” “A Change in Me,” and “Human Again.” Beiser says the new tunes particularly drive and enhance the plot.

“‘I love ‘Human Again,’ which expresses the enchanted objects’ desire to go back to their former selves and the way it was. ‘A Change in Me’ is also wonderful, as Belle details just how much her journey has taught her.”

The principal cast includes Stephanie Windland as Belle, Ben-David Carlson as Beast, Codie Brooks and Jonathon Schmidt as Chip, Colin Cranstoun as Lefou, Veronica Decker as Mrs. Potts, Harper Justus as Enchantress, Alan Kootsher as Maurice, Josiah Miller as Lumiere, Micah Sauvageau as Cogsworth, Drew Stairs as Gaston, Samantha Streich as Madame De La Grande Bouche, and Kaylee Verble as Babette.

Beiser is aware of the production’s timing, which arrives mere months after the release of Disney’s blockbuster live-action film remake starring Emma Watson. Nevertheless, he’s confident audiences young and old will be enticed to see La Comedia’s version no matter how many times they saw the film on the big screen.

“There’s nothing like the magic of live theater,” he said. “The cast is practically placing the show in the audience’s lap considering our space. With this production, we’re bringing fantasy to the forefront.”


Want to go?

WHAT: "Disney's Beauty and the Beast"

WHERE: La Comedia Dinner Theatre, Rt. 73, 765 W. Central Ave., Springboro

WHEN: Through August 20; Evening performances (arrival time 5:30-6:00 p.m.) and matinees (arrival time 10:30-11:00 a.m.)

COST: Adult tickets are $61-$75; Kids 11 and under are $30. Prices based on section/tiered seating.

TICKETS/MORE INFO: Call (937) 746-4554 or 1-800-677-9505 or visit www.lacomedia.com

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