We live in a time when movie magic can create any visual image our minds can imagine — and we expect it. What a treat to see some of that magic live and close up as North Shore Music Theatre’s spectacularly talented cast performs Disney’s “Beauty & the Beast” through the end of July in an innovative and visually stunning production.
Village maiden Belle enters a fearsome castle to rescue her father, and takes his place so he can return to their village. As time passes, she comes to understand and care for the monstrous Beast who owns the castle — actually a prince transformed by a sorceress to punish him for his mean and shallow nature. The sorceress has also turned the prince’s servants into dishes, silverware, a candle and a clock.
Can Belle break the spell? The servants think she can, and they coax her to stay, encouraging the Beast to declare his love for her. He is so ferocious that Belle flees into the woods in fear, and is nearly killed by wolves. The Beast saves her, getting injured in the process, and so begins the magic as she tends to him, starts reading him books, and eventually dances with him.
This show is chock full of hit songs and eccentric characters, and the cast of remarkable singers, dancers and actors does them full justice. The ensemble numbers are visually stunning, with amazing costumes by Ryan J. Moller and winsome wigs by Gerard Kelly — including a wonderful head full of gray curls for Belle’s father.
Stephen Cerf is commanding and versatile as the Beast. He is blessed with a remarkable baritone voice, and has a stunning dramatic solo at the end of Act I.
An equally powerful baritone voice defines the performance of Taylor Crousore as the vainglorious Gaston. During the “Mob Song” as he rounds up volunteers to hunt and kill the Beast, that baritone is both thrilling and chilling. Crousore moves gracefully through the action like a bad dream.
Rose Hemingway is a…