March 1 2018 11:00 AM

Owosso Community Players’ production does the tale justice


The long scarf a daughter gives to her dad onstage isn’t fancy, it’s rather plain.

That is about the only item in the Owosso Community Players’ production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” that isn’t extraordinary.

To say the multifaceted, three-story set inside the Lebowsky Center is elaborate seems insufficient. Dirk Rennick, Dan Wenzlick, Shelby Lindquist and Josh Holliday’s design shifts from a magnificent castle with staircases and upper chambers to a cottage in the country, a village, a tavern, woods and more. The painted marble, moveable fountain, and the fireplace that turns into a dungeon and portrait wall, are amazing.

Props designed by Mike Windnagle, Anna Owens and Gail Worden include oversized table and chairs, a Rube Goldberg-type wood cutting machine, and an ingenious cart that uses mirrors to hide all but Evan Worden’s face poking out of a cup in his role as Chip. Even minor objects like a wooden bucket, torches, and a tavern chair have exquisite detailing.

It’s no surprise it took an airplane hanger to house all the set pieces for five days during the production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” to allow for Owosso Hospital’s Ball held in the Lebowsky Center.

The elegant costumes in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” change more often than a chameleon walking across enlarged pixels of a variegated and stained shag carpet. The rented and diverse garments, again and again, impeccably and colorfully clothe the 16 principals and 29 ensemble players. When the entire cast — or even fractions of it— cavorts on the stage, it’s a flamboyant kaleidoscope of fabric.

An expert, 11-piece orchestra conducted by Jill Boots stays hidden in a pit below an extended apron — designed by Rennick — while actors gambol and leap around the hole to splendid choreography and direction by Garrett Bradley.

Keeping the feet of 45 energetic dancers who repeatedly frolic in stylish footwear from stepping in the pit is a feat in itself.

Claire Canfield is enchanting as Belle.

Her charm and angelic singing helps make the musical charming and heavenly. In majestic gowns or in a simple dress, Canfield’s presence is regal.

In and out of a grand and gloriously grotesque and garish ungentlemanly guise, Troy Seyfert is imposing and emotive as the Beast. His thunderous voice and animated movements convey the monster perfectly. Seyfert’s singing was equally booming. Despite headwear that included colossal horns, an ample snout and protruding teeth, I found Seyfert’s speech and singing forceful and clear.

Most everyone in the talented cast deserves mention for their singing and actions. Austin Elieff as Gaston, delivers the right amount of cloddishness and finesse. As subordinate, Lefou, Issaac Orr masterfully draws attention with a sparkling and slapstick performance. Alexsandria Clift is top-notch as the over-the-top, Madame de la Grande Bouche. Alissa Brittens’ Babatte adds her own sauciness and comedic skills to the Disney classic — with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolerton — that’s full of laughs.

Prop maker Windnagle plays Cogsworth with authority wearing a marvelous clock-prop costume. With candlestick hands, Vinnie Lindquist is the likable, French accented Lumiere. Stephanie Banghart delights as she floats about the stage in balloon-like teapot outfit. The comical, charismatic trio clearly pleased the sold-out opening night show.

The first performance of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” did have some glitches. Microphones sometimes were off as actors entered the stage, curtains fell at wrong times, wigs had issues and set changes were often too slow. The correctable flaws were not enough to spoil my appreciation of the show. This is one version of “Beauty and the Beast” that truly roars.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”

Adults – $21, Senior/Student – $19, Child (12 and under) – $13 All tickets carry a $1.50 ticketing service fee Showtimes March 2, 3, 4 at 8pm March 3, 4 at 3 pm March 4 at 7pm The Lebowsky Center 122 E Main St, Owosso, MI 48867

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