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CMT performs heartwarming 'Beauty and the Beast'

Beauty and the Beast is one of the most beloved Disney tales of all time. It is a story about love and despair; about the cost of sin and the hope of redemption.

In Belle, the common yet gorgeous village girl, we find a passionate and heroic individual. Her determination and compassion warm the heart of the selfish Beast and have the power to change his callous nature. Through this action, we come to both admire the Disney princess for her bravery, and rejoice in the freedom that love gives the Beast. The story is, in a word, heartwarming.

Too often, musical theater is considered a ?lower? form of entertainment. The drama student is never as popular as the model, and the Hollywood actress nearly always receives more fame than the Broadway actress. It seems that, more and more, the lights of live stages grow dimmer as cinematic lights shine brighter.

But I, for one, oppose this with all my heart. For those of my readers who prefer to spend their time in front of a 40-inch screen, watching prerecorded scenes of lifeless films, I challenge them to attend at least one drama performance this year.

In fact, why not go see Children?s Musical Theaterwork?s presentation of Beauty and the Beast? It has a familiar storyline, great singing, great dancing and a quality of entertainment well worth the box office price. That is more than I can say for many of the movies showed in cinemas every day.

Before I enter the specifics of this review, I wish to thank Children?s Musical Theaterworks (CMT) for offering the opportunity to experience the performing art of stage acting. Last Friday?s performance at the historic Fresno Memorial Auditorium provided not only quality entertainment, but also a vacation from the clutches of modern electronic diversions. I, for one, relished the chance to feel stimulated by a live show rather than dulled by an evening of virtual productions.

Not only does CMT?s rendition of the play provide a nice evening escape, but they do so with skill. Overall, I was very pleased with the acting and musical talent of the high school performers.

The strongest actor by far was Brandon Delsid. He absolutely stole the show as the ?flaming? Lumiere; his powerful vocals and pristine understanding of his character role really lite up the entire play.

Under Delsid?s leadership, the entire cast of spoons, plates and misfit castle items came together for what I thought was the most powerful moment of the play: the ?Be Our Guest? song.

That scene was absolutely spectacular, and I commend the entire cast for an excellent execution. The dancing was mesmerizing, the singing was superb and the special effects were spot on. If for no other reason, go see this play just for that moment, it is worth it I assure you.

Not every part of the play went smoothly, however. On the technical side, I found that the microphone volume was often either too high or too low, and they never seemed to get that quite right. At one point, Gaston (played by Niko Kazanjian) could barely be heard due to a problem with his microphone.

Also, I felt like the performers who played Belle and the Beast were slightly weaker than the more minor characters of Lumiere and Cogsworth. In my opinion, the relationship between these two leading roles could have been a little more dynamic, like that of Lumiere and Cogsworth, and for that reason I felt slightly disappointed. Do not get me wrong, they performed well, but they lacked a certain connection to each other that I was hoping for.

That being said, I really enjoyed Kazanjian?s portrayal of Gaston. His character was absolutely perfect with his ostentatiously, arrogant demeanor. He really caused the crowd to catch a sort of moral sickness from his putrid pride, and I found great amusement in watching him act.

Another interest I found in the play was in watching my fellow classmates. Caitlin Gaines, 15, and William Barisic, 19, were both a part of the ensemble and each played villagers. Barisic, being in 7th grade, was actually supposed to be in the junior cast, but was transferred to the adult cast because of his skill and potential. Despite his age, he performed just as well as all the other ensemble members.

Gaines, who is a member of our school?s drama cast, also performed very well as an enchanted plate. It was intriguing for me personally to see her outside of FC?s less prominent stage and on a more professional one. She fit right in among the other actors, and executed her job beautifully.

I have very little left so say except a final emphatic encouragement: go see this play. You will laugh at the Gaston?s portentousness. You will smile and clap for Lumiere?s animated performance. You may even cry when, at the end of the play, the Beast is finally free of his accursed form.

But, the most important reason to see this play is to widen one?s exposure to good entertainment. For your own sake, give the television a break for the evening. Spend some time viewing a more lively method of leisure that takes you beyond the walls of your own living room. It is worth it, I promise.

Beauty and the Beast will show four more times during Friday through Sunday, Dec. 13-15.

For more information regarding tickets and showtimes visit: CMT’s website or call: 559.442.3140.

Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Dec. 4 article, Long-time show celebrates 50th year with special episode (VIDEO).

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