'Disney's Beauty and the Beast' ready for company

'Disney's Beauty and the Beast' ready for company

June 17th, 2011 by Clint Cooper in Chattnow Art

IF YOU GO

What: "Disney's Beauty and the Beast."

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Where: Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.

Admission: Adults $31.50-$56.50 (plus fees); children $11.50-$36.50 (plus fees).

Phone: 642-8497.

Website: ChattanoogaOnStage.com

After years of doing community theater, Benjamin Lovell of Wilmington, Del., wanted to find out how he stood up against professional actors.

On a whim, he auditioned two years ago in New York City for a part in "The Drowsy Chaperone." Although he didn't get cast, someone didn't forget him.

In October, Lovell was asked to return to New York City to audition for "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," was offered a part, began rehearsing in March and joined the national tour in April.

On Monday, the 60-year-old owner of a group of retail shoe stores in Philadelphia and the Greater Delaware Valley region will be portraying Cogsworth, the clock, in the musical when it stops here at Memorial Auditorium.

"It's great," the British-born Lovell said of the TAPA-presented show, which was originally scheduled to be here in January. "There are some really wonderful acting moments. It's a very good story - really lovely - in its own right. Our characters tell the story while all sorts of fluff is going on. It's really wonderful to watch. It's one of the best spectacles I've ever been in."

The show, first a Disney movie and then a Broadway hit, features music by Alan Menken, lyrics by the late Howard Ashman and book by Linda Wolverton. Additional songs were added by Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice.

The story itself, a morality tale about learning to look beyond appearance, focuses on the love story between sweet, bookish Belle, who must fight off the advances of the brutish Gaston, and the Beast, a prince who has been cursed by a witch.

The musical includes numbers such as "Be Our Guest" and the title song, which sound even better live, according to Lovell.

"It's got some very good music," he said, "and the scoring and underscoring with our good orchestra is a pleasure to hear."

Throughout its run, Lovell said, children are naturally attracted to "Beauty and the Beast" because they've likely seen the Academy Award-winning movie, but it's also been a must-go destination for teenagers and young 20-somethings who remember the movie from their childhood.

"You come expecting to see something familiar," he said. "It's very accessible for any age."