Maltz Jupiter Theatre Re-envisions Disney’s “Beauty And The Beast”

Photo By Jason Nuttle

The Malz Jupiter Theatre’s second production of the 2018/19 season, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” runs through Dec. 16. Single tickets start at $60. For tickets and show times, call 561-575-2223 or visit JupiterTheatre.org.

What a production! 

What a great break from the holiday hustle to sit back and just enjoy a once-upon-a time fairy tale involving a beautiful young couple and a curse, so familiar to us all.  We know how the story will end so the surprises and attractions must come in the telling and not the tale.

And Maltz has made the telling unique. Directed by two time Emmy and Tony Award-nominated actor and acclaimed puppeteer, John Tartaglia (“Sesame Street,” ”Avenue Q”), all of the musical's inanimate objects and magical moments are portrayed by one-of-a-kind puppets, brought to life by renowned puppetry company Puppet Kitchen International whose artists previously designed puppets for the Theatre's productions of “The Wiz”and “The King and I.”

From the end of the prologue to the end of the show it felt like watching a comic book come to life. The costumes, the puppets, the slapstick, particularly that of the narcissist Gaston (Kevin Hack) and his sidekick Lefou (Ricky Cona) who was frequently knocked down, pushed around and punched as the fall guy for Gaston’s inability to woo the prettiest but “odd” girl, Belle (Danielle Bowen) in town.

Speaking of punches, this was the first time I heard the crash of slaps and punches perfectly timed with the actors’ movements. Sounds like something new in the sound department.

One could almost forget that the point of the production was the curse cast upon the handsome prince (Daniel Schwab) who had refused lodging to an enchantress (Alyssa Flowers/Cat Pagano/Katherine Trott) appearing as a homeless beggar woman. 

Because he fails to offer her a place to stay, the enchantress turns the prince into an ugly beast (Zach Nadolski) who has to find and achieve a mutually loving relationship with conditions that must be met in a limited time. Familiar?

The enchantress also curses the house staff, turning them into caricatures of their personalities.  They in turn become something of a Greek chorus commenting on the beast’s behavior and encouraging him to help free them to become human again.

"We are honored to produce Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”on the Maltz Jupiter Theatre stage under the direction of John Tartaglia, one of our industry's finest puppeteers and visionaries," said Andrew Kato, the Theatre's producing artistic director and chief executive. "Our audiences will see a complete reimagining of this unforgettable Disney classic with puppetry and design elements that will awaken the child in every audience member, regardless of age. You won't want to miss this one!"

The musical, nominated for numerous Tony Awards, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book by Linda Woolverton, opened in 1994 and ran for 13 years becoming the tenth longest-running production in history and grossing more than $1.4 billion worldwide.

Maltz’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast is everything they say it is. The puppets are unique, the staging, music and choreography are all wonderful.  I’m ready to go watch it again.  


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