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REVIEW: "Beauty and the Beast" at The Growing Stage In Netcong

By Jack Wooldridge

originally published: 10/10/2017

REVIEW: "Beauty and the Beast" at The Growing Stage In Netcong

“Beauty and the Beast” is a classic that has enchanted audiences, since the original Disney movie's release in 1991, with whimsical, beloved characters and instantly recognizable songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. The stage adaption of the original film is now showing at The Growing Stage Theatre in Netcong, NJ between Friday, October 6th and Sunday, October 29th. Featuring Emily Cara Portune as Belle, Jason Pumarada as the Beast, and directed by Stephen Fredericks, the first-night performance of the show was a big hit with parents and children alike.

An arrogant prince is cursed by a beautiful enchantress, forcing him to live as a terrifying beast until he can fall in love – and have someone love him in return. Belle, a girl in a small provincial town who escapes her drab surroundings through books, is relentlessly propositioned by the odious Gaston (Ryan Slone) and his dimwitted sidekick LeFou (Donald Danford). When her father, Maurice (Robert Allan), trespasses in the Beast's castle and is cast into the dungeon, Belle volunteers to take his place as the Beast's prisoner. With the help of the Beast's old servants, now transformed into living objects, Belle must help the former prince discover his gentler side if she is ever going to see her father again.

The set is beautiful and baroque, with shades of Gothic strangeness – especially in the odd curving stairways in the grand hall. Cut-out screens form the oppressive confines of the forest, and the Beast's symbol glows in the black-light, adding a mystical touch. The star-filled windows of the west wing stand out as a particularly breathtaking piece of set design, and really sell the magic of Belle and the Beast's dance scene. All the costumes are beautiful and picked out in bright primary colors, perfectly matching the intensity of the set and props. The whimsical world of the musical is brought to life by the alternating bright colors and dusty blues of the lights, which, at times, drop the stage into near-darkness.

Of course, the sets, costumes, and lighting can only do so much without talented actors and singers to embody their characters and captivate the audience. Fortunately, the Growing Stage has found some wonderfully talented vocalists for the production, with particular standouts being Emily Cara Portune as Belle, Ryan Slone with an uproarious rendition of “Gaston,” and Jenna Morris with her performance of “Beauty and the Beast.” The choreography is excellent as well, especially in the delightful number “Be Our Guest,” where the servants welcome Belle to the castle with pomp and style. Overall, the show boasts a very strong cast, who are able to effortlessly move from puns and jokes to more emotional scenes.

Beauty and the Beast will be performed at Growing Stage: The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey three times a week: Fridays at 7:30pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00pm. The house opens 30 minutes before the start of the show. Tickets are $25 for Adults, $15 for Children, and $20 for Seniors. Tickets can be purchased or call the Box Office at (973) 347-4946. 



American Poetry Theater Presents "Gun Love"
(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- The American Poetry Theater presents Gun Love from October 5-7.  The play, written by cast and community members, runs about one hour and is a collection of monologues and a skit dealing with gun violence in America.  
Seuls en Scene 2018 Runs This Week At Lewis Center For The Arts
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Department of French and Italian, and L’Avant-Scène will present the seventh annual Seuls en ScèneFrench Theater Festival, which will take place from September 21 to 29 at venues across the University’s campus. Most performances will be in French with English subtitles; all are free and open to the public.
Smugbug Productions presents The Eleventh Hour! at The Raritan River Festival
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The Eleventh Hour!'s Chris Pasi with composer David Seamon for a night of acoustic renditions of songs from the rock musical comedy at the Raritan River Festival at Boyd Park in New Brunswick, NJ on Sunday, September 30 at 1:00pm. 
Lewis Center for the Arts presents a Conversation about the History of Casting
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- Associate Professor of Theater at Princeton University and performance historian Brian Herrera will lead a conversation about the history of casting in U.S. popular performance on Monday, September 24 at 4:30pm in the Wallace Theater in the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. The event is free and open to the public.
"Nightmare Alley: An Introduction" to debut during West End Festival of the Arts
(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- The West End Festival of the Arts presents the World Premiere of Nightmare Alley: An Introduction - a new musical based on the 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham and the 1947 noir film that starred Tyrone Power. The musical stars Cole Burden, Kevyn Morrow and Lauren Zakrin and can be seen for one night only as part of the West End Festival of the Arts on Friday, September 21 at 8:00pm presented at 132 West End Avenue in Long Branch.

The Jersey Devil on stage: An interview with playwright Brandon Monokian
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An Interview With Nicole Pandolfo
Nicole Pandolfo is a talented playwright from New Jersey whose work has been produced on four continents along with readings and productions throughout the Garden State. Her play, Brick City, is currently being presented at Premiere Stages at Kean University now through September 23rd. The play was commissioned and developed via the NJPAC Stage Exchange program. Premiere's production features Rafael Benoit, Jacqueline Correa, Madison Ferris and Chris Grant under the direction of Jessi D. Hill.
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"By The Water" at The Waterfront South Theatre
“By the Water,” a play about a family dealing with the aftermath of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, will have its regional premiere at the Waterfront South Theatre in Camden on September 7, 2018. Written by New York City-based playwright Sharyn Rothstein, “By the Water” has been called a “Superstorm drama” by Time Out (New York), “a first-rate play” with a “bittersweet ending” by The Huffington Post, and “a solid play about a dissolving world” by The New York Times. It’s part of the theatre’s current Celebrating Female Playwrights season, entirely dedicated to work by women.

Event calendar
Thursday, Sep 20, 2018


ELI YOUNG BAND WITH CODY BRYAN @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

CELTIC THUNDER X @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm

Lost 80's Live @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Citizen Cope @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm

ICON 2018: ELIMINATION ROUND 2 @ Hamilton Stage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

Linda Eder @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

Auditions for Seussical at CDC Theatre @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 7:00pm

Playhouse 22's Third-Thursday Play Reading Series @ Playhouse 22, East Brunswick - 7:30pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Opening Reception @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 6:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 8:00pm


New Jersey Film Festival @ Ruth Adams Building #001, New Brunswick - 6:00pm


Crybaby Matinee: The Triplets of Belleville @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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