"Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Indianapolis Civic Theatre

Directed by Ron Morgan

Through Jan. 7

If you don’t mind getting pelted by a sea of light-up roses being wielded by little girls in Belle costumes, you really should check out Indianapolis Civic Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast. I skipped the show last year to stave off redundancy, and my return this year gave me a pleasant surprise.

The show is even more lavish than I remembered, and visually, it is stunning. Almost the entire cast takes part in the centerpiece number, “Be Our Guest,” for a somewhat crowded but satisfying almost-show-stopper.

Sets and costuming are what grab you even before the ensemble takes off in the opening number, “Belle.” This is a triumph for scenic and lighting designer Ryan Koharchik and costume designer Christopher Arthur.

Of the large cast, standouts include Tobin Strader as Gaston and Peter Scharbrough as the Beast. Both have exemplary voices, and Strader’s characterization of the cartoonish Gaston is spot-on without being ridiculous.

Whitney Kraus as Belle has a few good moments, but too often she is flat in her songs: “Is This Home” and “A Change in Me,” two songs exclusive to the stage show, are disappointments. However, as the character Belle, she brings a sweet disposition.

The rest of the cast is strong (John O’Brien as Lefou, Dr. Jay L. Wile as Maurice, Jeff Angel as Cogsworth, Daniel Draves as Lumiere, Marilyn Kennedy as Mrs. Potts and so many more), and everyone is backed up by a sensational orchestra.

Ron Morgan’s direction keeps everything going smoothly, and the pace is quick enough to keep the attention of the kiddies, but not so jacked-up you feel like you are in a Saturday morning cartoon.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast continues through Jan. 7 at Civic Theatre, which is located on the campus of Marian College. Tickets, $33, are available by calling 317-923-4597.



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