Beauty and the Beast great family entertainment

Crimson Tine Players would like you to be “their guest” at the Christmas performance of Beauty and the Beast.

Princeton’s theatre group brings the classic fairy tale to life at Riverside over the next two weekends. The musical – which has been six months in the making – has a polish not always accomplished by amateur troupes.

Directed by Heather Anderson, it evokes the beloved Disney classic with some local color thrown in the mix.

The story of a young prince, who is magically changed into a monster while his servants are transformed into household items, is heartwarming and humorous. The Beast must win the love of the imprisoned Belle, before he can be returned to human form.

This interpretation’s success can be attributed to the combination of reliable Crimson Tine veterans and some refreshing and newly-mined talent.

Jamie Umpleby (mild-mannered engineer and director of Princeton’s infrastructure department by day) is new to the Princeton stage as the merchant, but his past experience on the boards is evident.

The music choices are fun and well-delivered.

Another newcomer – and he gives great customer service at Save On Foods – is Stacey Van Skiver. He has no previous acting experience but gives a stand-out performance as the first Igor.

Mark Redsky, the second Igor, is a noted professional artist and screen writer. He and Van Skiver demonstrate impeccable timing as they work off one another hilariously in ghoulish fashion.

All three “discoveries” elevate the production and will surprise playgoers.

Necessary to the survival of community theatre is the ability to put bums in seats. A tried and true strategy is to work with children, but this can often lead to missteps and confusion – and sometimes outright pandemonium.

In this production however, the young players brought together by Anderson are delightful and (mostly) disciplined.

Ryzon Malsbury-Letts, Olivia Holloway, Tairyn Legge, Hannah Leduc, Olivia Vandergulik, Isabelle Wouda, Drew Marshall, Brooklyn Cox, Lacey Baird, Mandie Lews, Marina Sutyagina, Payton Barth and Deacon Holloway are all worthy of their roles.

As the witch, 12-year-old Mya Robbins punches above her age class.

And regular Crimson Tine fans will appreciate Abby Fulton in the role of Belle and Colton Calihoo as The Beast.

Part of the easy flow on stage, with so many young actors, must be attributed to Nichole Loza, appearing as Mrs. Potts. She seems to be Mrs. Potts both in play and practice. It is Loza’s tenth production and she is a solid cast anchor.

Hallmarks of Crimson Tine productions include superior sets, costumes and props and that is certainly true of Beauty and the Beast.

Sue Alton’s costumes are creative and manage to make even the deliberately ugly characters look fantastic. Artist Juhli Caldwell has helped to create incredible backdrops and crew master Dianne Rainer does a fantastic job with assistance from Lola Mazzei and Shaelin Tomusiak.

PattyAnn Peal has a small role on-stage, but makes her greatest contribution behind the scenes as producer.

Live theatre is a wonderful gift to give yourself, and an especially important opportunity to offer children.

Create a new family tradition this year and “be a guest” of Crimson Tine Players.

Show times are November 23, 24, 30 and December 1 at Riverside Centre. Doors open at 6 p.m. and curtain is at seven.

A family pass is $40, adults are $15 and students and seniors pay $10.

There is a $5 matinee December 1 at 2 p.m.

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