Review: Classic ‘Beauty & The Beast' on stage at Mariemont

Talking clocks, singing tea pots, enchanted castles and dancing candelabras sounds a lot like a tale right out of a story book, which is just right for Mariemont High School’s production of the classic Disney story, “The Beauty and the Beast.” With vibrant costuming, elaborate set pieces and talent that brought the entire stage to life, this performance was truly a success.

The love story that is Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” takes audiences to a town where a young girl, Belle, is the odd one out. While looking for her lost mother in the forest, Belle stumbles upon an enchanted castle where she becomes friends with people disguised as inanimate objects due to a spell. During her time in this castle, Belle learns how to find love in some of the most unexpected places.

When Mariemont took this production to the stage, they were able to overcome some major challenges by making everything they have count. The adaptability of the cast showed their diverse talent in many ways, while highlighting the standout talent of many cast members.

Lauren Renner (Belle) and Gavin Smith (Beast) shared some excellent moments on stage and brought the classic characters to life in their own unique ways. Lauren Renner’s strength was in her acting and stage presence, but her voice was riveting in the song “Is This Home?” Likewise Gavin Smith had a robust stage presence, and played this well into the shyness of his character’s beginning. He did an admirable job at acting “beast-like” while climbing up the stairs and crouching to sit in his seat at the dinner table. Smith’s voice also revealed strong points in the lower ranges of his songs.

This production could not have been as effective without the great diversity of the supporting cast members and ensemble. Hunter Theirs (Mrs. Potts) had a lovely voice which was highlighted well in “Beauty and the Beast,” and she held exquisite manifestation as the motherly figure in the show. Similarly, Santi Martinez (Lumiere) had an outstanding voice while singing “Be Our Guest.” In fact, all of the characters from the castle shared the flair of maintaining an accurate accent throughout all of their scenes. With such a large cast, the ensemble was extremely effective in filling the stage with personality in all of their numbers.

A unique aspect of Mariemont’s production was their inclusion of the orchestra without an actual pit or any real room for the musicians. The orchestra was placed behind the wall of the back of the stage and the sound was forced to bleed through in order to be heard. The cast worked very well with this challenge and inability to communicate with the conductor for cutoffs and cues. In such a small space the cast and crew made good use of every inch they had.

Allowing a dive into a classic fairytale, Mariemont High School did quite well by producing a compelling and joyful performance of “The Beauty and the Beast.”

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