If you haven’t been able to visit Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln, NH for Beauty and the Beast, there is STILL TIME. The enchanted rose has not lost all of her petals yet! The show runs through Saturday, August 4, and the link for tickets is here. Initially, my mom was going to take my daughter who is 7 and loves musicals, just like her mother, and mother before her. Then, due to days of rain storms, my overnight hiking experience with other people’s daughters canceled, freeing me up to go with my mom, daughter and other friends. Beauty and the Beast was the highlight of our week!
From the opening scene of storytelling using shadow and back lighting, the music, acting, singing, costumes, and energy kept our excitement right up to the moment enchanted roses filled the theater. Seriously, not one person stole the show; each actor and actress contributed so much to the story that in many ways it was like reading it again for the first time. Everyone knows what happens to the Beast before the story begins, especially my 7 year old. “He made a bad choice, Mom, not to let the old lady in when she needed a place to rest. Then she cast a spell on him which made him really ugly and scary,” Greta explains to her grandmother before the show starts.
My mom and I chuckle remembering last year at Annie when she whispered loudly a thousand questions about why any parent would want to give up their child. And if you did have to live in an orphanage, why couldn’t nice people take care of you? These were all good questions and not ones easily answered.
Then the lights go down and Joel Mercier, Jean’s Playhouse new Producing Artistic Director, steps onto the stage to say a few words before the performance. He invites us all to purchase enchanted roses at intermission as the power of the rose will play an important role in the second part of the play. “Mom, do you remember the part of the play where the rose loses its petals? Mom, if he doesn’t find true love again then Lumiere and Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts and even Chip will be frozen forever like furniture. Mom, Mom, I must have an enchanted rose,” she explains while begging– as if the entire conclusion of Beauty and the Beast depends NOT on Belle and the Beast falling in love with one another while Gaston tries to manipulate her feelings using her father, but instead on whether she will have an enchanted rose.
But once the play begins, we are whisked away by the individual and group performances, compelling us to remember our childhood imaginations, the power of love, and “tales as old as time.” Lead by Jamie Glickman as Belle, Dan Owens as the Beast, Shane Heidecker as Gaston, and an entire ensemble cast of talented, truly exceptional musicians, we could have listened and watched for hours more.
At one point, my daughter’s 7 year old buddy from school– also blond and also very dramatic from time to time like my own daughter– joined Greta in waving their enchanted roses wildly in the dark theater hoping against hope their magical wand would weave wishes all the way to the Beast on stage and turn him back into the prince. Then it happened. The Beast returned to being a prince and the storytelling shadows returned and all of the furniture became real people again, and it was magical.
We clapped and cheered and found our way to our cars to head back home to regular life where bedrooms would need to be cleaned and dishes put away and the rain would fall again for a few more hours. That night at bedtime, she was still mulling the show around in her 7 year old brain. “So, Mom, Gaston just wanted to marry Belle because she was pretty? But Belle could also sing really well and she liked to read and she was kind to people and took care of her dad– Gaston just didn’t see that stuff? Maybe he just wasn’t that smart but thought he was? And Mom, Lumiere and Babette loved each other still even when they were a lamp and candlestick holder? And the Beast could still be kind even when he wasn’t handsome, but he was cursed when he was handsome but not kind, right?” Again, all very good questions.
But she fell asleep with her “enchanted” rose thinking about who knows what! Thank you to Jean’s Playhouse, your actors and actresses and production staff and volunteers and employees. Welcome to Joel Mercier and Interim managing director Lyn Winter, and always to Vicki Etchings as the Box Office Manager and Community Outreach person. Not only do our Lin-Wood students benefit from seeing performances here at Jean’s Playhouse, but my own along with many friends and grandparents love them too. There was a little something for grand kids and grandparents, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and old and new friends. Thank you for this gift!