Tag Archives: Chanhassen Dinner Theatres

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

March 14, 2016

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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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Chanhassen’s ‘Joseph’ a fun night at the theater

May 28, 2013

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215px-Joseph_and_the_Amazing_Technicolor_DreamcoatIt’s been 40 years since “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” first hit the London stage, 31 years since  Andrew Lylyod Webber’s music and Tim Rice’s lyrics told the story from Genesis on Broadway, and it’s twice before had runs at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, the latest only four years ago.

No mind. It just doesn’t get old. Not the way director Michael Brindisi and the company at the Chan play it.

Days later the tunes are still running through my head, of course, but what makes the Chan special are the sight-gags that are so well-timed and well-played, along with the way all the actors, all 27 of  ’em, are engaged all the time.

Take your eyes off charming Jodi Carmeli as she narrates the biblical story or off leading man Jared Oxborough as Joseph, and every single player is in character, doing his or her part to add to the action.

A good example are the way all 11 of Joseph’s brothers have a different way of expressing the distain for their favored-child brother; no two actions are alike, each a creative movement that’s perfect for the scene.

With the dancing, the great costumes and the clever props,it’s what a night’s entertainment ought to be.

 

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