East Penn Press

Monday, July 16, 2018

Cast creates a 'Beauty' of a 'Beast' at PSF

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 by DOUGLAS GRAVES Special to The Press in Focus

An inspired, high-spirited cast in Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's production of "Beauty and the Beast" delivers a terrifically enchanting retelling of The Brothers Grimm's classic children's story as retold for the stage by Michele. L. Vacca.

Gina Lamparella directs this charming show, through Aug. 3, Schubert Theatre, Labuda Center for the Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley.

Belinda Bell, or "Beauty" as she is known, is perfectly played by the graceful and completely enchanting Emiley Kiser as she balances her love for Henry Beaumont, her doting father portrayed by Jonathan Wallace, and a growing attraction to the inner qualities of the beastly lord of the castle.

Bernard "Beast" Beowolf is played with growling intimidation by Andrew Goebel. For an actor with such formidable makeup, Goebel's skill at communicating subtle emotion shows his talent as a first-rate actor.

Before he was changed to a beast, the Prince (Brendan Moser) was human, though still a royal pain. Moser is perfect as the villainous Prince as he struts through the village ordering his sniveling vassals, Percy (Jequery Slaton) and Gaylord (Dan Tomansky) to "collect more taxes." The two shine as royal bootlicks.

Peter Danelski gets great laughs as Grampaw Gus. Danelski is hilarious as castle chef Alfredo Fettuccini. Danelski also plays the heartless Judge Simon Judd.

Storyteller Florabunda is played by talented and lovely Julia Pfender, who wields her magic wand with great effect. Pfender does a superb job in the critical supporting role.

Castle steward Theodore Thermidore (Mark Marano) is priceless as he keeps the staff jumping and the castle wheels turning. Marano also shines in a secondary role as the judge's henchman, Constable Conrad.

Calliope Carruthers, played by Katie Wilson, is wonderful as the housekeeper. Phoenix Best is splendid as Penelope Peabody, the cute and perky maid.

The castle staffers, including Marc Bitler who plays both Jethro and Pemberton the valet, and Jegurey Slaton as Billy Bob, are wonderfully entertaining in several dance numbers.

The Beast's wig and makeup is superlative with credit going to Martha Ruskai.

Costume designer Amy E. Best did a terrific job in his beautiful production with scenic design by Samina Vieth.