Don’t miss enchanting ‘Beauty’ this weekend

  • By Theresa Goffredo Herald writer
  • Thursday, July 24, 2008 12:20pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

MOUNT VERNON — It may be difficult to come indoors on a warm July evening, but sacrifice one of these summer nights to take in the Lyric Light Opera of the Northwest’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

You won’t regret it. It’s like a picnic for the eyes.

And there aren’t many evenings left. This is the last weekend for the show, with performances tonight, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at McIntyre Hall on the campus of Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon. (The production will be repeated in September in Kirkland.)

This “Beauty and the Beast” will delight and dazzle, will make you laugh and will break your heart a little. It’s as scrumptious to see, from the costumes to the sets, as it is to hear, as lush as a July sunset. It’s an enchantingly good time for the whole family.

The classic tale of a beautiful woman falling in love with an ugly beast continues to provide the timeless lesson that a person’s beauty is found within. That lesson is wonderfully delivered by a talented cast who give this fairy tale their four-star best.

The bodacious braggart Gaston, who pursues the beautiful Belle with a stalker’s zeal, is conceited, narcissistic and wonderful. He’s actually gorgeous and possesses a deep sexy singing voice. Still, Belle wants nothing to do with him, which only fans Gaston’s desire.

Gaston isn’t totally lecherous, but rather a delicious combination of comic and conniving. In the song “Me,” Gaston is at his best, singing that he and Belle “shall be a perfect pair, rather like my thighs.”

In the tavern scene, Gaston and the ensemble do a beer mug-enhanced song and dance based on the number called “Gaston,” which is good to the last drop.

Gaston is played by Logan Benedict. Last season, Benedict portrayed the “agonizing” prince and love object of Rapunzel in The 5th Avenue’s production of “Into the Woods.” So with this role, Benedict has truly perfected the art of making egotistical buffoons funny and making us root for him despite ourselves.

Belle manages to break away from Gaston and also break the spell that was cast over the handsome prince that turned him into The Beast by using the power of love. And Elise Campello plays Belle just as she should: as a strong-willed smartypants who happens to also be a stunner. Campello’s rich voice is showcased in such tunes as “A Change in Me,” which will produce goosebumps.

The Beast is portrayed by Brian Earp, who truly captured the creature’s menacing temper but dug deep to deliver the sympathetic, almost pathetic, character underneath all the fur. Earp’s rendition of “If I Can’t Love Her” was haunting and heartbreaking. Earp gave The Beast a real sense of intelligence about his own situation and the workings of the world. It’s no wonder, then, that Earp is a student at Yale University studying cognitive science and is editor of the Yale Philosophy Review.

Other solid performances were delivered by Mo Brady, who played Lumiere, Kevin Cobley, who played Cogsworth and Carol Swarbrick, who played Mrs. Potts and sent us swooning with the play’s signature song, “Beauty and the Beast.”

The money song of the show remains “Be Our Guest,” which this cast pulled off with Broadway-like flair, again making this “Beauty” one of the must-see shows this summer.

Reporter Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or goffredo@heraldnet.com

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