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Derby Dinner's Beauty is no beast

July 09, 2008
When Annie Myers, of Derby Dinner Playhouse, sent me information on "Beauty and the Beast," the theater's latest play opening, I thought, "Now, Annie, do I look like the kind of guy that would enjoy 'Beauty and the Beast?' " Of course not. I like squirrel hunting, tractor pulls, strong coffee and changing my own oil — you know, all that manly stuff.

But, I figured that Annie had never misled me, so maybe I should give it a shot. I'm really glad I did.

"Beauty and the Beast" appears at Derby Dinner Playhouse through Aug. 2. (Photo Courtesy of Derby Dinner Playhouse)
"Beauty and the Beast," which opened June 25 and runs through Aug. 2, is a must see, even for us "manly" theater-goers. Yes, there were children there — but yes, there were also a lot of men in attendance — and yes, everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story of "Beauty and the Beast" has been around for years and has been told several ways, with directors taking small liberties — weaving the story into different, but interesting versions. The Derby Dinner production is as good as it gets.

Allison Berry (Belle) and Adam Clough (the Beast) come through with outstanding performances, making the story almost believable and certainly exciting.

Belle's inventor father (played by Cary Wiger) is held captive in a castle owned by a handsome prince. But the prince, due to his mean treatment of a peasant with magical powers, was turned into a beast and his servants were turned into such objects as a candelabra, a teapot and a clock. And the spell would remain until the beast learns how to love and the love is returned by a beautiful woman.

Belle convinces the Beast to accept her as a prisoner in place of her father. When she refuses to dine with him, the Beast is beside himself. But his tantrums get him nowhere with the beautiful Belle, and he becomes more humble. Soon, love finds a way into his heart, and Belle sees a side of him that is not so beastly.

The costumes are creative, the music is wonderful, and the dancing is thoroughly entertaining. And the actors do a first-rate job of bringing this play to life.

Tyler Bliss (Lumiere) is at his best in this production. He takes the part of the candelabra to a whole new level, almost making you believe that a candle holder can talk and has feelings. Brian Bowman (Gaston) is perfect for the role of a narcissistic Don Juan, set on marrying Belle. And J.R. Stuart shows his versatility once again, playing the role of a bookseller, flawlessly.

The rest of the cast, over 20 actors, are just as talented and deliver stunning performances, whether dancing, singing or providing support roles. The creative stage sets and props work well on the small, yet adequate stage.

So, finish changing the oil, load mom and the kids up in the car and head to Derby Dinner Playhouse at 525 Marriott Drive in Clarksville for a show that the whole family will enjoy. Each ticket comes with delicious buffet dinner.

For reservations, call 1-812-288-8281.

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