If you’ve only seen the animated movie of Beauty and the Beast, you haven’t seen everything.
The Broadway musical version of the Disney classic offers more songs than the 1991 film, and to see it performed live, on stage, by actual people is not the same as seeing it in two dimensions on a screen.
Beauty and the Beast is the Cowichan Musical Society’s triumphant return to the stage after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it isn’t too late to catch a performance, with three more shows coming up on Feb. 18-20. (They were originally scheduled for this coming weekend, but the society opted to delay them due to a surge in COVID cases in the Cowichan Valley.)
Among the songs you won’t be familiar with if you’ve only seen the movie are show-stoppers ‘If I Can’t Love Her’ and ‘A Change in Me’ delivered in this performance by Jamieson Wickham as the Beast and Alora Killam as Belle, respectively. Both Cowichan-raised performers are outstanding throughout the show, as triple threat Killam more than does justice to the iconic princess role and Wickham encapsulates the Beast’s range of emotions and (literal and figurative) transformation.
Of course, there are also the beloved songs from the movie, including the joyous ‘Be Our Guest’ and the title ballad. ‘Be Our Guest’ is every bit as extravagant on stage as it is in the film, and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ captures the essence of the entire production.
Georgie Weeks-Hyde, who sings the title song as Mrs. Potts, also serves as head costumer for the Cowichan Musical Society production, and led the creation of some extraordinary costumes — such as a teapot, teacup, candelabra, mantel clock, wardrobe, featherduster, plates and cutlery — all of which have to allow for singing and dancing, as well as functionality in some cases. Weeks-Hyde was assisted by costume engineers Jennifer Cleough, Rebekah Gusway, Wanda Chow-Lindberg, Chris Killam and Bev Parkin.
The sets, designed by Gregg Perry and Cliff Braaten and built by Perry, Braaten, Graham Brockley and Brad Heyd, have to conjure everything from the Belle’s vibrant-yet-stifling provincial hometown to the ominous woods to the desolate grandeur of the Beast’s castle, and do their job impressively.
That’s not to leave out the actors, singers and dancers who take centre stage. In addition to Killam, Wickham and Weeks-Heyd, standouts include Grant Mellemstrand — who also stepped in to direct the show after the original director moved away — as Lumière, Jim Cleough as Cogsworth (understudy James Meyer filled in for the first two performances), Amy Hovey as Babette, Theodore Perkyns as Chip, and Christine Fagan as Madame de la Grande Bouche. That’s not to forget Jordan Heath as the pompous Gaston and Sam Mellemstrand as his toady, LeFou.
Contact the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre at 250-746-2722 to rebook tickets already purchased or to get new tickets for the remaining performances, or visit https://www.cowichanpac.ca/event/beauty-and-beast for information.