Mill Mountain Theatre's "Beauty and the Beast, Jr.," directed and choreographed impressively by Anna Kimmell, is a crowd-pleaser in every respect. On opening night this evening, the sellout crowd was rowdy, appreciative, and gave a standing ovation to the big cast of mostly local young actors.
It is a show with sparkling costumes (Amanda Phillips and Debbie Adler), solid sets (Karen Gierchak) and star-quality performances from Morgan Arrivillaga (Belle) and Jack Dunkenberger (Beast).
If you look below the marquis, though, you get the heart of the show from David Schultz (Gaston, the bad guy), Jacob Wadstrom (his flunky Lefou) and Mrs. Potts, whose singing was singularly excellent. Among the supporters, the always-expressive Anna Holland as Madame de la Grande Bouche (a chest of drawers), stood out. And, of course, one won't easily forget the squealing Silly Girls, Mackenzie Bowles, Peyton Conner and Abby Martin.
The package was quite good and is, of course, geared toward children, so it is short (a little over an hour), and normal theater etiquette does not apply. Mom and Dad have to take the young ones to the bathroom upon occasion, and that is understood.
This large, elaborate production is the theater's premier children's play of the season and it is one the kids will love, especially those having seen the Disney movie. My granddaughter, who is 10, sang along, whooped, yelped and even shed a tear when the beast became kindly.
Fun show for you and the kids. But don't go alone. This one's for sharing.