Beauty & The Beast at Irvington HS has unbelievably inventive costumes, lots of clever choreography and directing, the BEST HIGH SCHOOL STAGE CREW EVER, marvelous sets built for lightning-fast changes, and the loudest intonation-free orchestra since The Think Method. Lumiere is brilliant and The Beast is great. So many excellent supporting performances. Unfortunately the female leads were both fighting severe colds, so many of the best numbers suffered greatly. Brave kids - it's scary to open your mouth during your solo and have nothing come out. One more weekend, I hope they are better by then. Note to producer: It's probably better to end Act I with the standing-ovation-worthy production number, regardless of how long it makes Act II.
What I did not say:
The sound person (people?) sucked. Every one of the 6,487 cast members was miked with those annoying, distracting tubes-on-the-face mikes. Maybe three of them were actually adjusted correctly. The mikes on all of the leads were cutting out regularly. At halftime they tried to blame cell phones, but that's a crock - cell phones haven't used those channels in years. And cell phone interference adds sound to the stream, it doesn't make it lose audio.
Two things needed to happen for this show's audio to work:
1. Muffle the orchestra. They were playing too loud by 200%
2. Only mike the soloists. In that theater any three or more people singing together will be heard un-amplified.
What else I did not say:
Gaston was boring. The part calls for over-acting. And it would have been nice if his mike worked. His sidekick's mike worked, so whenever he was in his sidekick's face, we heard him.
The staging for the title song had Mrs. Potts singing far stage right while Belle and The Beast mimed their parts center stage. Belle's ball gown is blindingly beautiful, and she looked stunning. The Beast's uniform costume was perfectly tailored and he looked stunning too. But I wanted to see the singer as well as the action, and this staging did not let me do that. I might have liked it better if the singer was off-stage. Or upstage of the table.
The way they did chip was a child was sitting inside Mrs. Pott's cart, only his head from the chin up visible, above an oversized, chipped cup. It was pretty unnerving at first. And at second and third. Like a David Copperfield trick gone horribly wrong. But clever, very very clever.
Some of the more stand-out extras were the cheese grater (beautiful girl, made me wish she was 20 years older), the dresser - who held her pose for about 5 minutes without batting an eyelash, and then came to life just as you thought she might be a mannequin. Salt and pepper shakers looked like twins, simple costumes of one black and one white chef's smock and a mushroom-shaped floppy hat with black spots to indicate the holes. Gaston's four bimbos were loud and giggly and inane, as they should be. There were some beautiful plates.
Several times the director made use of not only the through-the-audience entrance but also we were serenaded in the aisles on at least two numbers. I thought it was a little freaky, I'd rather keep the 4th wall up. It was like gratuitous 3D. But they sang in tune and together, which is hella hard to do with people facing three different directions, 20 feet apart.
If Belle and Mrs. Potts have most of their voices back, it will be well worth seeing next weekend. Thurs-Sat at 7:30 pm. Click here