Beauty and The Beast - was the Best

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By Craig Thornton

Beauty and the Best

I had the pleasure of seeing the Watertown Lyric Theater’s production of Beauty and the Beast this past weekend at the Dulles State Office Building.  I was duly impressed.  What a fantastic production! With huge sets, dozens of costumes, an orchestra and a huge cast that includes children, undertaking the Disney epic is no small feat.  If you manage the logistics of the production, you then have artistic and entertainment hurdles to get over. Not a problem for director Daniel Davis, his stage crew and his very talented cast.

 The show was cannily cast and everyone gave 100% in their performances. Four of the best performances belong to the enchanted household furnishings.  The candelabra,  Lumiere, is played by Phillip Dyke.  Dyke’s delicious take on the pompous, elegant, yet kind hearted light keeper is charming, funny and borders on brilliant without going over the top, although the summit of the mountain was in close reach.  Relaxed and blessed with impeccable timing and a commanding voice, this is a performance to be proud of.  

 Cogsworth, the tightly wound clock was played by Jonathan Cole, who is quickly becoming a disciplined and gifted comedian. Where Lumiere is relaxed and in control, Cole’s frantic waddle and flailing hands were a comic contrast to his constrained body, which was actually a boxed clock. 

 Babbette, the feather duster was played by the effervescent Emily Smith.  Voluptuous and vivacious Ms. Smith brought energy to every scene she entered.  At times, demur, and other times saucy, she was always interesting to watch.

 Mrs. Potts, the part made famous by the great Angela Lansbury was played by the always amazing Rebecca Dyke.  As I stated in a previous blog on Craig’s To Do List, Ms. Dyke is perhaps the most underrated singer in Jefferson County.  Blessed with a gorgeous voice, her rendition of “Beauty and the Beast” is as good as I have ever heard, including Ms. Lansbury.

 Special note should be made of Natalie Reff who played Belle.  She was great.  Rarely have I seen a lead performance in community theater, that seemed so 100% seamless and professional. Ms. Reff has a flawless singing voice and she can act while singing too.  Often actors in musicals can do one or the other, but rarely can they do both, especially at the same time.  Charismatic without being haughty, Ms. Reff has a huge career ahead of her.

 Once again, the entire crew and cast should be praised.  This stellar production is proof that there is an enormous amount of talent in the North Country, and the access to great art continues to be easier.  Gone are the days of having to travel 50-100 miles to see good theater.  I urge you to support local theater and the talented people who live right here in your backyard and provide us with entertainment.

 One more thing! The set design by Phillip Dyke was fabulous.

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Monday, September 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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