Walt Disney Would Be Proud of Barter's Production
By ROBERT McKINNEY | SPECIAL TO THE HERALD COURIER | October 06, 2008*** This story was published Oct. 2, 2008 in the Bristol Herald Courier. ***
ABINGDON, Va. ? The late Walt Disney was a man of vision, spirit and seemingly limitless imagination and was one of my all-time childhood heroes. I watched him introducing the stories on his "Disneyland" television show through the snow and static of our neighbor's set whose picture rolled every time an airplane lumbered over. Much of what the Disney studio has produced since Walt's demise would hardly meet the great man's standards, but "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" would, I think, make him proud. If he could see the Barter's production, he would be prouder still.
"Beauty and the Beast" is the best. It is wild; it is loud; it is colorful. The singing is wonderful; the dancing is unbelievable; the sets are magical.
Evalyn Baron and Amanda Aldridge, as director and choreographer respectively, deserve much of the credit without a doubt, but nothing, absolutely nothing about this production is anything short of the pinnacle of imagination and perfection.
This is a play for children and dreamers of all ages. Oh, I guess I ought to caveat that the action and some of the special effects might be a bit scary for really young and timid folks.
The beautiful Hannah Ingram ("Evita") plays Belle and Dan Folino plays the Beast. Despite performing in a mask, Folino still manages to convey a wide range of emotions. Good ol' Mike Ostroski, as the pompous Gaston, is big, loud, arrogant, boastful and full of himself (none of which Ostroski is in real life, by the way) and his big number in the tavern scene quite literally stops the show. It is that unbelievable.
Ezra Col?n shines as Lefou, Gaston's bumbling sidekick. Watch Col?n; he is going to be Barter's next Ernest Borgnine. You just wait.
Just about everyone's Barter favorite is in this sproduction: Mary Lucy Bivins, Eugene Wolf, Michael Poisson, Sean Campos, Ashley Campos, Cathy Whelan, Cheyenne Nelson, Rick McVey, Frank Taylor Green, Ben Mackel, Seth Marstrand, Darrick Penny, Katie Becker, David McCall, Ryan Henderson, Carrie Smith, Liz Whittemore, Eva Alom, Rachel Grunstra, Shaelyn Hamilton, Ashley Harkins, Anita Ostrovsky as well as two most excellent young players Matthew Torbett and Logan Fritz ("The Who's Tommy").
If you've been waiting for the right play to attend with the kids and family, this is it, although adults will enjoy it just as much, if not more. The show runs through Nov. 15.
Info: (276) 628-3991 or www.bartertheatre.com.