By Markus Mathews
Performance Riverside’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” captivated the audience of the Landis Performing Arts Center.
The astonishingly talented cast brought the 1991 animated classic to life using fantastic set design, wonderfully choreographed dances numbers and intrinsically designed costumes.
From remarkable acting to the beautifully enchanted “Beauty and the Beast,” this production was pure entertainment from lights up to the last bow.
“Beauty and the Beast” brought all of your favorite moments and characters from the Disney classic to the stage while adding new songs to help aid the story’s transition from feature film.
The Riverside City College production directed by Jodi Julian and Gary Krinke feature a full orchestra that included faculty and students from the college.
Unlike most modern musicals, having the live orchestra exposed in the pit provided additional depth that enhanced the story much more than if they would have been hidden.
The show was staged very efficiently by using painted silks or background to accurately portraying scenes like Belle’s cottage and the interior of the castle.
While the current modern musical theater trend is to focus heavily on technology and projections.
RCC’s “Beauty and the Beast” used traditional methods to transport the audience into different scenery.
The moments when the production shined were during the ensemble numbers including “Belle,” “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest.”
It was clear that there was so much talent on display on the stage and it was a real treat to see live.
While each actor gave their own personal layer to the characters that they were portraying, some standout performances included Matthew Malecki who brought the larger than life character Gaston and Paulette Sheen Ocampo Jumalon.
Jumalon’s operatic singing voice completely embodied Madame de la Grande Bouche, the wardrobe.
Colden Lamb and Andrew Lopez also did a very convincing job portraying Cogsworth & Lumiere respectively.
The duo’s playful dynamic provided a familiar but unique take on the characters that kept the show on pace.
The production would not be anything without Belle and the Beast played by real life married couple Jaclyn Kelly Shaw and Caleb Shaw.
There was such undeniable chemistry between the two of them that made the show much more enjoyable.
A few hang-ups about the production include some of the costumes especially during the “Be Our Guest” scene.
There were such amazing details placed into the main character’s costumes (particularly The Beast, Lumiere and Cogsworth) but the ensemble’s outfits seemed like a rushed job or afterthought.
Another moment was during the scene when the spell was broken and the Beast turned into the Prince.
They had someone dance across the stage with a ribbon to distract from what was happening onstage.
Personally, more fog could have been added downstage to block the audience’s view of the transformation as well as enhancing the movement of the intelligent lighting.
Despite these two suggestions, “Beauty and the Beast” was a great production to watch. It seemed like the audience was thoroughly entertained as they erupted in applause during curtain call.
This spring Performance Riverside and RCC will be present the Tony Award winning musical “Hairspray” in the beginning of February and will be holding open auditions Nov. 14.
Those interested in becoming a part of the cast should visit performanceriverside.org for more information.