Center Stage Theatre Kalamazoo Presents: Beauty and the Beast

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Written by: Justin Kleckner 7/16/2022

Act One
PROLOGUE: Starting off the show strongly with incredible lighting design and an incredible pit orchestra. The acting between the Young Prince and the Enchantress was very charming, and was beautifully accompanied by a narrator, weaving the start of the tale with great tambour. Listening to the vocals of this productions Belle, who is only 16 years old, blew me out of the water. Whether she knows it or not, she is a powerhouse vocally, and a fantastic student actor.

SCENE 1: Going into their first number, BELLE, the company showed a beautiful tale that was not only told by the actors and their vocals, but they were also told with their incredible costumes, makeup, and set designs. Incredible job backstage crew.

SCENE 2: Going into the second number of the musical, NO MATTER WHAT, and NO MATTER WHAT REPRISE, the duet between Belle and her father was moving in the most beautiful way. Each step they did and each note they hit showed incredible control, and showed that they love the art. The Wolves added an incredible theme to the scene in the woods, and because of that, the scenes moved effortlessly between each other.

SCENE 3: the acting between Maurice and the castle staff showed incredible talent, and each one of the actors should be proud of the work they put into this production, and specifically this scene. Seeing the Beast for the first time was incredible, and had a beautiful menacing presence, which was well done through makeup and costumes.

SCENE 4: this scene specifically between Gaston and Belle really showed off the two actors acting chops, especially in the number ME. Then, once again, the incredible actress of Belle showed off her vocal chops in the reprise of BELLE. Goosebumps along my whole body from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Belle was a powerhouse, and a force to be reckoned with in all future endeavors.

SCENE 5: When Belle gets introduced to the castle staff, it is positively enchanting, the acting top notch, as well as the comedy. The scenes with Belle and her father were incredible, and such emotion proved, once again, that would get had such incredible acting props, that it moved the audience to feel incredible things.

SCENE 6: slowly finishing Act 1 with this crowd favorite number, you can tell GASTON was well taken care of in this production. Each dancer, singer, and prop fit perfectly into this, and the cast should be proud of what they did here. One group that should be incredibly proud throughout this production should be the Pit Orchestra, who played each number professionally, and with such artistic talent, they should all be incredibly proud of what they have done.

SCENE 7: High expectations were held for this scene, with the show stopping ending of ACT 1, BE OUR GUEST, and I was not disappointed with how the company put it on. Each dance break, costume, and actor was clearly looked at under a microscope, and it looks like it was done incredibly. I found no flaws in BE OUR GUEST, and the ye costumes were out of this world. The dancing blew me away, and clearly the work of the backstage crew was, might I say, professional.

ACT 2:
SCENE 1: Starting off ACT 2 strong with an incredible opening with the Pit Orchestra. The set design was incredibly strong as well, using the beautiful forest set piece once again. The one comment that I would have with this scene would be to have the wolves slightly more choreographed, but again, such a small thing that it didn’t bother me at all.

SCENE 2: Scene 2, where Belle and Beast began to take care of each other, and truly care for each other, was clearly shown in the portrayal of the characters. Showing off a brand new set piece, the library, was something of a spectacle that actually made me gasp aloud. The library was stunning, and the vocal talents of SOMETHING THERE and HUMAN AGAIN, the castle crew sang beautifully, once again telling the tale of Belle and the Beast falling in love over their love of books.

SCENE 3: Scene 3 showed the cruel and incredibly evil scheming of Gaston, LeFou, and Monsieur D’Arque, who are doing their dastardly plotting to get Belle, they do it with such beautiful harmonies and choreography in MAISONS DES LUNES. Incredible job to the three actors in this scene. All three of their costumes were right on point, so another props to the costume teams.

SCENE 4: In Scene 4, one of the most timeless love ballads for a Disney movie, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which is sung by one of the most talented Mrs. Potts I’ve ever listened to, gave such an incredible performance it gave me goosebumps along my arms, legs, and the back of my neck. Following up the power ballad, was the Beast with IF I CANT LOVE HER REPRISE, which again, with the incredible talents of the 16 year old Beast, WOW. Again, goosebumps along my entire body.

SCENE 5: Scene 5 starts off Belle rescuing her father, bringing him back to the house, where she belts out a heart-wrenching rendition of A CHANGE IN ME, which actually brought tears to my eyes. 16, wow. Mind. Blown. This scene ended with MOB SONG, and it was once again, beautifully choreographed. Each movement showed purpose, and the actors in the scene sang beautifully, in an angry way.

SCENE 6: Scene 6 starts off with an incredible fight scene between the enchanted castle staff and the villagers. This company made it so enjoyable and fun, it was hard to focus on one specific thing, they all made it so fun to look at, and you could tell they had fun making it as well. Moving on to the fight between Beast and Gaston, it was very well directed. Good emotion, and it felt real. During the death scene of Beast, you could feel the emotion and sadness flooding from the stage, crashing over the audience. Belle gave a soulful rendition of THIS IS HOME REPRISE, and then came one of the hardest scenes I know of, the Beast Transformation scene. The way they did it by drawing the focus to the Enchantress on the other side of the stage, made it feel like it really was magic. Seeing Belle and the Prince finally meet face to face, accompanied by the Beasts singing was again, goosebumps.

Overall Thoughts:
Wow. Just wow. When I came in, I had pretty mild expectations for coming to a Community Theatre production of Beauty and the Beast. HOWEVER, after seeing this production done by Center Stage was not only some of the best community theatre I’ve ever seen. It was some of the best theatre I’ve seen, PERIOD. While they only have one show left for Beauty and the Beast, I do have to say I am looking forward to seeing what they do with their upcoming season for 2022-2023. Congratulations Center Stage.