Pushing the Broadway musical limits, this year’s offering of Beauty and the Beast at Riviera Preparatory School never fails to impress the audience with deliciously fun staging and choreography combined with beautiful costuming and frenetic energy from an enthusiastic cast.
A delightful coterie of furniture, kitchenware and knick-knacks sweep the audience members off their feet into a world where the lines between imagination and reality seriously blur. From Belle’s mellifluous voice to the deep baritone of the Beast, the brash, effusively over-confident Gaston and the seductively suggestive Lumiere inviting all of us to Be Our Guest, this grand production continuously entertains.
The play’s director, Carlos Jordan, would not rest on his laurels after the shining accolades received by cast, crew and band following the school’s very first musical last season. In this year’s production, he doubled down on his mission to create a large-scale performance encompassing as many resources as he could muster from the school and student body.
“With a plethora of talent and a large number of kids involved in our dance programs on-campus, this play allowed us to bring it all together in such a glorious fashion showcasing the wide variety of skills each student brings to the table. Set design, costumes, lighting, blocking, voice and dance — there’s a world of talent developing right here in our school community.”
They play’s opening displayed exactly that.
The sellout crowd of over 500 people on opening night was treated to the ensemble’s sweet sounds and laughter galore from the clever lines delivered by Gaston, Lefou, Lumiere and Cogsworth. The talented timepiece kept the audience in stitches while Lumiere and the dancing dinnerware brought the house down with an extended ovation that nearly broke character for the leads.
Gaston’s facial expressions, body poses and complete lack of modesty, along with the buffoonery so cleverly played out by Lefou, kept the laughter rolling. Mrs. Potts and her darling Chip as well as Madame “wardrobe” only added to the zany support crew for the head of the castle.
With each and every song, Belle’s pristine sounds added to the emotional weight of scene after scene. The touching moments along the library balcony when two “odd” characters discover how much they have in common only furthered our hopes that indeed, the spell might be broken and the prince rewarded with this prize catch.
A tip of the hat to the dance and production teams who creatively designed props, costumes and maneuvers across the stage. Whether deftly simulating the onslaught of a wolfpack or allowing the audience to feel that plates, silverware and napkins were always meant to prance and fly across the dining room, the artists who put it all together should be commended for their foresight.
On a number of occasions, the troop made full use of the auditorium affording each “guest” the possibility of truly feeling the experience. If these past couple years work from the Fine Arts Department are any indication of the versatility in education and preparation for the future at Riviera, even more exciting thrills await students, parents and the community ahead.