NJ State Theatre brings ‘Beauty and the Beast’ back to life
In a society where second screens such as iPads, laptops and cell phones have replaced the now obsolete VHS tapes and DVDs, theater still grasps on to what is left of Disney fairytales.
This past weekend, at the New Jersey State Theatre on Livingston Avenue, NETworks, a theatre production company, brought Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” to life.
The performance allowed both the young and the old to relive the classic love story with vibrant costumes, elaborate Baroque-inspired sets, a live orchestra and enthusiastic dance numbers.
Although the show attracted a more mature crowd, who grew up replaying “Beauty and the Beast” on VHS countless times, one could still point out toddlers dressed in Belle’s famous golden ball gown among the crowd.
As the curtains rose to reveal the familiar opening scene of the townspeople, Gaston and Belle, it was clear that the NETwork’s rendition was thoughtfully crafted.
From the detailed props, which seized the traditional style of an 18th-century town, to Belle’s iconic commoner dress, which was just the right shade of blue, the design team made sure the audience did not leave feeling cheated.
The cast was able to capture each character’s spirit to the fullest capacity from Lumiere’s witty sarcasm and Cogworth’s overpowering paranoia to Gaston’s villainous egotism. The actors brought powerful vocals and upbeat acting skills appropriate for a Disney show.
Cast member Daniel Gold, who plays the carpet in the show as well as Lefou, the young prince who appears in the beginning, described the production experience as one of the most exciting set of roles he has ever played.
“I have honestly never worked with such a talented and gracious group of people,” Gold said. “They have gotten me to an entire different level as a performer.”
Gold has always been a fan of Disney and expressed that being a part of such a renowned Disney classic as “Beauty and the Beast” was surreal. He said he is a fan mostly due to the morals and the message the story portrays.
The actors made sure to emphasize the way the plot ultimately challenges the 18th-century dichotomy between the powerful man and the submissive woman. Belle remained the strong, determined woman who demanded respect regardless of gender, whereas the Beast attempted to be cautious of his actions and act like a gentleman.
And by the end, both characters managed to learn to put their guards down to invite positive feelings and understanding into their relationship.
“You’re able to see the transformation of these characters — how Belle and the Beast are able to find love and see the beauty within,” Gold said. “You will definitely come out of it probably learning something different for yourself. It is a strong portrayal of this message.”
Overall, NETwork was able to successfully unravel Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and keep a timeless tale alive for generations to come.