By ELLEN FERRY. The quaint, intimate space at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre can barely contain the dynamism of its latest production, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. For the first time in more than ten years, the beloved fairytale has returned to the charming west-suburban locale. The March 11th opener did not disappoint.
Three-dimensional costuming and a stunning set truly brought the storybook tale to life. Coils of lavender vines, spiraling skyward into a twinkling canopy of lights, caressed a cast of enchanted characters adorned in white and gold. Mystical gargoyle statues played by young actors blended quietly into the set before they danced to life and executed seamless scene changes. Lighting designer Sue Ellen Berger illuminated Rich Hamson’s costumes and Nayna Ramey’s set with brilliant, marbled color. Director Michael Brindisi spared not a single detail for this fantasy of a production.
Though weighty in lavish ornamentation, Beauty and the Beast progressed with surprising buoyancy thanks to its skilled cast. Undeterred by extravagant costuming, every cast member delivered a powerful, high-energy performance. Aleks Knezevich’s depiction of the self-absorbed Gaston was notably animated, as was that of Emily Rose Skinner, the opera star-turned-enchanted wardrobe. Ruthanne Heyward made for a delightful Belle, her voice soaring during solos like “A Change in Me.” Her transformation as a character was as prominent as the physical transformation of the Beast, if not more so. Belle learns that first impressions aren’t always what they seem, and that life in a “provincial town” may just be something to cherish.
Beauty and the Beast runs through fall 2016 at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. Show-only tickets start at $49.00. Visit www.chanhassentheatres.com today or call the box office at 952.934.1525 to reserve your seat.