Last night, I had the pleasure of attending opening night for Beauty and the Beast at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. Having grown up watching the animated version of Beauty and the Beast (among other Disney classics), this was an especially magical performance to me.
The actors portrayed their characters so true to form that I felt eight years old again. Hilary Maiberger, whom I interviewed a few weeks ago, proved to be an excellent Belle. She sounded exactly like the animated feature when she sang, and she radiated traits like confidence, innocence, and kindness just as any good Disney “princess” should. The Beast, played by Darick Pead, was frighteningly comical, a side of the Beast you don’t see in the animated feature. I rather enjoyed his musical numbers that were added to the stage production. Gaston was hilariously boorish, even though he was played by an understudy at this performance. With his constant flexing and outlandish attempts to “woo” Belle, he soon became one of my favorite characters. Crowd favorites such as Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts and Chip played their roles as enchanted objects brilliantly. I liked that the enchanted objects were becoming less and less human, a change from the Disney classic.
The use of puppetry for the sorceress and the wolves gave another dimension to the play and made parts that would have been difficult to transfer from film to theater believable. The use of many different scrims aided those tricky scenes of the play as well.
Numbers like “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest” did not disappoint and were, in fact, my two favorites. “Gaston” included an intricate dance sequence using beer mugs that was very entertaining, and “Be Our Guest” provided fun surprises for children and adults alike.
Without giving too much of the ending away, the Beast transforms back into a human in a way that made my mouth drop to the floor. I still can’t figure out how they managed it on stage right in front of me.
This all-ages show would make an enchanted night out for anyone. If you’d like to be the Kentucky Center’s guest for Beauty and the Beast, visit www.kentuckycenter.org  for ticket information and performance times.