BEAUTY AND THE BEAST; Hale Center Theater, Orem; through Nov. 26; (phone: 226-8600); running time: 2 hours 30 minutes with one intermission
OREM — Amy Shreeve as Belle is beautiful and smart in the Hale Center production of "Beauty and the Beast."
Ben Hale plays a nicely layered personality as the prince trapped in a beast's body because he needs to learn to be nice.
But Gaston, played by Dave Burton (in the M/W/F cast) is the standout. He's brutish, conceited and selfish, yet he's totally fun; a big lunk with a great smile.
In addition, all of the furniture characters are well played and the doormat does some nice backflips. Oliver Gaag is an amusing if somewhat predictable Cogsworth, trying to retain his French dignity as he changes into a clock with a windup handle. David Smith is a perfect Lumiere with comedic timing that sets off every line he says. Becky Enciso portrays a sweet Mrs. Potts and Chip (played by Ethan Cook), is adorable in his traveling table.
The costumes are magnificent and almost as fun to watch as the action unfolds. (The furniture pieces change as time runs out, and there are little additions that appear. The armoire actually has things in the drawers.)
The set is interesting, and it's remarkable how many people and how much action the small stage can handle.
It's also amazing that the technical crew can adapt for productions like this that require handling a number of challenging props and visuals, such as the smoking vehicle invented by Belle's father and the transformation of the beast at the end.
In fact, the magic on stage is absolutely stunning. Kudos to the stage managers (Cody Swenson and Cody Hale) and director (David Morgan).
This is a show that is so well known, it could become way too predictable if not for exceptional acting, color and props.
Instead, it's full of life and wonderful images.
The vocals are beautifully done, and the choreography hums along. The dining room tableau with the forks, the knives and the napkin rings is delightful.
On opening night there were some microphone overtones and a couple of pauses as the actors strove to match the soundtrack, but they were only minimal distractions.
Here's a great show for the family, including youngsters who know the story.