Casting perfect in Chan’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

March 14, 2016

SpiritBlog

Muscle-bound Aleks Knezevich as Gaston isn't impressing Belle (Ruthanne Heyward), the beauty in Chanhassen's "Disney's Beauty and the Beast." Photos by Heidi Bohnenkamp, 2016

Muscle-bound Aleks Knezevich as Gaston isn’t impressing Belle (Ruthanne Heyward), the beauty in Chanhassen’s “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” Photos by Heidi Bohnenkamp, 2016

I didn’t walk out of the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres humming a memorable tune after seeing “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” What kept coming to mind, though, was, one, how spot-on each of the actors was cast for their roles, and, two, how perfectly the actors played their characters.

Yes, of course their are terrific voices, and yes, the full-cast song-and-dance numbers — what the Chan does best — were top-shelf. But the actors were exactly right for each and every role to the point that I wondered if anyone could have played a single one any better than the folks on the Chan’s stage.

Ruthanne Heyward is lovely and talented as the beauty Belle, and Robert O. Berdahl has all the right moves and hits all the right notes as the beast. Yet it was the other players who fit their roles to an even greater extent.

Aleks Knezevich was perfection as the muscle-bound egotist Gaston, who chases after Belle. If you created an animated cartoon character for the part you would use Knezevich for the model. Not only did he look and play the part to comic perfection, his voice is superb.

Scott Blackburn is Cogsworth the clock and Mark King Lumiere the candlestick, both perfectly cast in "Beauty and the Beast" at the Chan.

Scott Blackburn is Cogsworth the clock and Mark King Lumiere the candlestick, both perfectly cast in “Beauty and the Beast” at the Chan.

The smaller (but not small) parts of Cogsworth the clock (Scott Blackburn), Lumiere the candlestick (Mark King) and Mrs. Potts the teapot (Susan Hofflander) were right up there with Gaston, perfectly cast and played so well it was as if they were born for the parts.

Costume designer Rich Hamson pulled out all the stops to create amazing looks for  the various household-item roles, with Laura Rudolph’s two-tiered serving tray perhaps the most creative.

A tip of the hat to director Michael Brindisi for pulling off another winner, scheduled to run through this autumn, and to Brindisi and choreographer Tamara Kangas Erickson for great casting, with assistance from Andrew Cooke, music director.

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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 42-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

View all posts by Bob Zyskowski