From the moment Belle walks into her light clutching a book and sings, “Little town, it’s a quiet village, every day, like the one before”, this irresistible production of Beauty and The Beast takes you in. And then the town springs to life with everyone singing, “Bonjour!” to one another as Belle makes her way through the townsfolk and you are off to the races in another delightful show from Fremont Centre Theatre’s resident youth theatre company, YST! The charm of the show itself is undeniable with some of the most beloved characters of all time from the intelligent beauty with wanderlust, Belle, to her quirky inventor father, the vainglorious Gaston and loyal sidekick LeFou, the motherly Mrs. Potts and her darling son, Chip, and of course the complicated, tortured Beast.
It is fun for the whole family with little ones in the audience whispering to their parents, “look! It’s Chip!” or “see, he’s a nice beast” eliciting giggles from the opening night crowd. YST produces at least four full-scale productions a year in addition to four shows in the summer and each fall is the membership production where the young actors also direct, choreograph and produce the entire show under mentors. It is an exhilarating experience for them and always an impressive, inspiring feat to behold.
For the uninitiated, (really?) Beauty and The Beast tells the story of Belle, a bright young girl who dreams of the adventures she reads about in her beloved books, and the Beast, a monstrous creature who is holding her captive in his castle. The Beast was once a handsome prince who is now under the spell of a witch, as is the castle and its inhabitants. The only way the spell can be broken is if the Beast can learn to love and be loved in return. The staff has been turned into objects like a clock, candelabra, a feather duster and a teapot; as determined as they are to be “Human Again” and because they truly care about the prince, they set about helping him to woo Belle. The result is an unlikely friendship, bond and love that transcends outward appearance. It is a story that charms and delights time and time again.
Belle is a dream come true role for any young actress and with the talented Ava Broneer and Ellia White playing her in the “Knives” and “Forks” cast respectively, it’s a dream for the audience as well. Broneer brings all the lovely nuances of her Broadway caliber voice to the role while White gives a heartfelt performance of the compassionate young Belle. Corwin Daley is a winning Beast/Prince and Jack Wisinski is both menacing and endearing. Gabe Michlin is adorably sweet as Belle’s quirky father and Carolyn Mottern puts her own oddball twist on the role.
The castle staff of living objects is hilarious top to bottom from the hysterical Gwyneth Daley as rules obsessed Cogsworth with Sorsha Khitikian giving her best uptight, stressed out version of the trusty clock. Akirin Au gives a spot on Maurice Chevalier accent to Lumiere the French candelabra with the engaging Lucy Fossa playing the role with joie de vivre. The lovely Christina Amber and sweet as pie Sophia Marshall-Pelayo play the motherly Mrs. Potts with the always adorable Fiona Pudi and the charismatic spunk of Riley Barone playing the darling little teacup, Chip.
Bringing the house DOWN in both casts are the young men who play Gaston. Levi Srabalus has the arrogant, eyebrow raise nailed perfectly while Paul Zenas brings impeccable comic timing and the perfect blend of vanity and insecurity. Both actors bring great personal charm to the role and pull off the crazy hair and high-heeled boots with flair! Giving wonderful comedic support in the role of sidekick LeFou is the ever winsome Lindsay Osborne and the delightful Sophia Corrall.
As always, the entire ensemble of young actors at YST fill the theatre with their chutzpah, enthusiasm and terrific voices under the direction and mentorship of Jack and Gloria Bennett. Hats off to the young producers including director Jacqueline Eubank, musical director Ellia White and co-choreographers Sorsha Khitikian and Brayden Nguyen.
The casts also include Aisling DeVilla, Diego Rodriguez, Hudson Barone, Gianna Lucio, Veronica Koutsky, Kyla DeVilla, Amelia Girt, Victoria Field, Karen McGovern, Jacqueline Eubank, Miguel Gomez, Rowan Farley, Sydney Kim-Tang, Paxton Kim-Tang, Augie Matsuura, Harrison Farley, Addison Bryan, Sophie Peineke, Phoebe Dickinson, Anna Sawran, Asha Quibilan, Ridley Downs, Brayden Nguyen, Zoe Keller, James Pudi, and Griffin Downs.
Beauty and The Beast JR. runs through November 11, 2018. Be on the lookout and get ready for ugly sweater contests and more holiday cheer when YST presents Elf JR. in December.
Tickets at YoungStarsTheatre.org. All shows are at YST’s full time space, the charming Fremont Centre Theatre located at 1000 Fremont Ave, South Pasadena.
Friday, October 26 @ 7pm
Saturday, October 27 @ 2pm & 6pm
Sunday, October 28 @ 2pm
Friday, November 2 @ 7pm
Saturday, November 3rd at 7pm
Sunday, November 4 @ 2pm & 6pm
Friday, November 9 @ 7pm
Saturday, November 10 @ 2pm & 6pm
Sunday, November 11@ 2pm