The characters you know and love from “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” come to life on the stage of Woodland Park this summer, but with a magically neon twist.
At first, I wasn’t sold on the costume design by Patrick Howell and Whitney Sampson for Kentucky Conservatory Theatre’s annual outdoor musical production. The bright pinks and greens felt jarring to the eye under the waning daylight. But when the sun set, and the costumes were able to interplay — sometimes directly — with Danny Bowling’s clever lighting design, I totally changed my tune.
The effect of this dance between costume and lighting created a brightly enchanting aesthetic that lent itself to the story’s climactic and deeply magical ending.
Of course, the tale as old as time is only as good as its performers, and in “Beauty and the Beast,” KCT went back to what works. Both Krissalyne Love and Ron Wilbur return to title roles after appearing in “The Wiz” last year. Love’s portrayal of the spirited and kind Belle is charming, with her soaring and expressive voice taking center stage. Wilbur’s Beast is truly bestial, with booming, gruff voice and animal expressions. That makes his second act transformation all the sweeter.
Speaking of transformations, Jordan Lindsey’s Cogsworth, Scott DiMeo’s Lumiere, Rebecca Keith’s Mrs. Potts, Nicolas Acosta’s LeFou, and Abi Moore’s Babette add their own flair and humor to the inanimate characters of the castle. Their comic relief and color were especially on display in the evening’s most memorable numbers like the high-energy, creatively choreographed, “Be Our Guest.”
Occasionally, the production did suffer from a few sound glitches — microphones going out or popping. But most of those issues were ironed out by the second act. While the innovation of design gives this show a unique and somewhat unexpected aesthetic, the show itself is exactly what one expects: a faithful retelling of the Disney story, with a few extra songs thrown in to round out the musical aspect of the show.
One thing I enjoy about these summer musicals is that they are truly family-friendly. There were many children attending the Saturday evening performance I attended, including my own, who said he loved “the candle” (Lumiere) the best. Kudos to KCT for finding a model that works for them and that provides families an opportunity to share in a unique outdoor musical theater experience.
If You Go
“Beauty and the Beast”
What: Kentucky Conservatory Theatre SummerFest’s production of the Disney classic.
When: July 5-8, 12-15 and 19-22
Showtimes: 8:45 p.m. showtime, gates open at 7:30
Where: Woodland Park, 601 E High St.
Tickets: $15 adult, $10 children 10 and under