The eye of the beholder

‘Beauty and the Beast’ comes to Beit Hillel for Hanukka.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
December 11, 2014 13:20
3 minute read.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ musical classic

‘Beauty and the Beast’ musical classic comes to israel. (photo credit: PR)

There is a select group of musical classics that never tire, are never outdated, appeal to all ages and always leave audiences with a warm feeling and a smile. There still is something to the “And they lived happily ever after” finale.

What better collage of music, color, dance and storyline for the entire family can there be than the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, which is coming to the Beit Hillel Theater Workshop for nine performances.

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Disney’s celebrated animated classic premiered as a play on Broadway in 1994, winning numerous Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Song. It is based on a French fairy tale about a beautiful, intelligent young woman (Belle) who is unable to find herself in her small provincial surroundings. She is weary of fighting off the advances of the local heartthrob and dreams of an escape to a world of culture and art.

Strange circumstances place her in the haunted castle of a cursed prince turned Beast and his cursed servants. They see Belle as their salvation. If she and the Beast fall in love, they will be freed from the curse. Initially repulsed, the girl soon finds much to appreciate in the Beast’s hidden, tender nature. You can guess the rest of this classic love story.

The musical score and lyrics originate from two theater legends – Alan Menken and Tim Rice. Menken is the composer of the music from Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors and Newsies. Rice was the lyricist for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat; Evita; Aladdin; The Lion King; and TV’s Glee.

This is the 29th year of productions for the Beit Hillel Theater Workshop, which has engaged in drama, comedy, musicals, concert tributes, operettas and special Holocaust presentations. Their past productions include Fiddler on the Roof; The Phantom of the Opera; Guys and Dolls; Les Miserables; The Diary of Anne Frank; Ish Hassid Haya; The Wall; Brighton Beach Memoirs; A Chorus Line; Biloxi Blues; West Side Story; My Fair Lady; Annie; and Oliver! This is the second production in their new home, The Rachel Simon Hillel Theatre. Michael Berl is the founder of the workshop and has been its director since the theater’s inception.

To date, more than 1,300 thespians have performed at Hillel under his guidance and direction. Paul Salter of Encore! fame is Beauty and the Beast’s music director, and Adina Feldman is the show’s choreographer. The show is embellished with a musical ensemble, full lighting and creative costume designs.

A talented cast of 30 has been assembled for this spectacular. They consist of resident Israelis, university and high school students, as well as overseas students.

“We have actors from England, the US, France and Israel who come in from Petah Tikva, Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh and have formed a real ‘community’ theater production, with ages ranging from 16 to 65,” says the show’s director. “The rehearsals have been filled with lots of great chemistry and actors’ input in designing the scenes.”

The show headlines noted actress and singer Shani Wahrman as Belle, musician Alon Aviv as Gaston, veteran Hillel performer Dooby Harvey as the Beast, Neil Turetsky as Maurice, and Miriam Wartski, Bryan Friedland, Tzachi Goldstein, Avital Kagen, Lucy Jennings and Tal Schwerd as the castle “objects.” Included in the famed musical selections are “Be Our Guest,” “If I Can’t Love Her,” “Home” and the Tony Award-winning theme song “Beauty and the Beast.”

‘Beauty and the Beast’ will be performed on December 17 to 24 at the new Rachel Simon Hillel Theatre at Beit Hillel, Hebrew University campus, Jerusalem. For tickets, call (02) 581- 7714. You can visit on Facebook – Beit Hillel Theater Workshop.


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