Beauty and the Beast: still a beauty

The Arts Club is presenting Beauty and the Beast at the Stanley Theatre.

Come on. Don’t try to tell me you don’t want to be at least one of the characters in this scenario. (Michelle Bardach as Belle and Jonathan Winsby as the Beast. Photo by David Cooper)

As I was watching the Arts Club’s production of Beauty and the Beast for approximately the ten thousandth time, I was struck by three things: actors’ jobs are weird; no matter how many times I see this show, it completely undoes me; and this year’s version is particularly charming.

Usually, I attend opening nights, which are such high-strung affairs that you forget the show won’t be quite so charged every night. But, sitting with a mid-week crowd for Beauty and the Beast, I had time to notice just how hard the performers were working at pretending, at manufacturing joy in themselves and others. I used to be an actor, but it’s been a long time and I’d forgotten.

Because I’m familiar with both the story and this production—the Arts Club has been mounting this show on and off since 2005—it took a while for the magic to kick in this year but, when the beastly Beast first tired to convince Belle, the beauty, to dine with him, despite his horns and fangs, I got hooked once again. And, by the time the two of them were falling in love, I was a puddle. After all, who doesn’t feel beastly to some extent—unlovable physically, emotionally or both? [Read more…]

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