by Deborah Marciniak – Contributing Editor – June 6, 2021
Mellodrama’s Production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr.” is enchanting and magical. Spectacular lights, sound effects, set design, staging, and stunning costumes enhance the stellar cast of characters, ages 3 to 18. This classic story, with popular songs by Alan Menken and Tim Rice, tells of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self.
The Director/Set Designer, 21-year-old Jonathan Marciniak, had a unique vision. “I wanted to focus on the theme of the dark vs. light and how Belle, who represents the light, takes the Beast out of the darkness and into the light of love, kindness, and acceptance,” says Jonathan. Lighting and special effects, including the use of projections, and a set with multi-levels keep the audience engaged and on the edge of their seats wondering what surprises come next. Costume Designer, Kuwanna Martin developed detailed and eye-catching costumes that add to the whimsical attitudes of the characters. Choreographer, 18-year-old Jewels Tillery (who also plays “Belle”), expertly uses the various levels of the set to add visual appeal. Clever and artistic make-up, done by Belle Adams (who also plays “Babette”), a junior, enhances the characters and their costumes. Producer, Neva Garrett, has been educating, directing, and producing local and regional theatre for more than 30 years. She is excited about MelloDrama’s first full production since the state opened up after covid. Many of the cast members have been under Neva’s direction for more than 10 years. She continues to mentor young talent and allows them to shine. For this production, she stepped into the role of Producer and allowed Jonathan to step up as a Director. “He has produced a stellar production,” begins Neva. “I am so proud of the entire cast and crew…the experience is truly magical and enchanting.”
The cast gives a note-worthy, energetic and impactful performance. Jewels Tillery (Belle) becomes the Belle that we all know and love. She shows a gentle spirit and compassionate heart, yet exhibits an independence that we admire. Jewels’ voice is captivating and her poise and grace (especially when walking down the multi-tiered stage in her breathtaking ballroom gown) is memorable. Michael Saldarriaga, who plays The Beast, is emotional, bigger than life, and has a voice that demands attention. Seth Martin skillfully plays the role of the self-centered Gaston with outlandish gestures and hilarious movements. His comic timing is superb and he keeps the audience laughing every time he takes the stage. His sidekick, Dante Sebastian Bulos (Lefou) is always ready with a response or a gymnastic move when getting out of Gaston’s way. Belle Adams is a perfect flirty and flighty Babette with high energy and enthusiasm; it’s hard to take our eyes off her. Elizabeth Roberts (Villager) lights up the stage when she appears, especially capturing our attention with graceful ballet moves during the song, “Be Our Guest.” Matilda McGuinness (Mrs. Potts) also offers a noteworthy performance, especially with the song “Beauty and the Beast”, the pivotal moment in the show when you know Belle and the Beast have fallen in love. As a way to capture this moment, the Director chose to have the cast use sign language while Matilda sings and the couple dances. It’s a memorable and special moment in the show.
Beauty and the Beast, Jr. will be playing at Cornerstone Christian Church. The cast and crew are thankful for Pastor Mike Frazier for having a passion for theatre and allowing the show to take place in his church, and for running the lights and sound.
June 5th at 7pm
Sunday, June 6th at 3pm
Friday, June 11th at 7pm
Saturday, June 12th at 7pm
Sunday, June 13th at 3pm
Tickets are only $10 and available at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/disneys-beauty-and-the-beast-jr-tickets-154298463859