By MIKE MORRIS

The Union Democrat

“That’s amazing,” I heard a child sitting behind me whisper just moments into Sierra Repertory Theatre’s production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

An old beggar had just been magically transformed into a beautiful enchantress. Not only did the scene set the stage for the story to come, but it also gave a glimpse into the dazzling visuals ahead.

SRT’s version of the Disney musical — now playing through July 29 at the Fallon House Theater in Columbia State Historic Park — is expertly directed and choreographed by Dann Dunn.

The play tells the story of Belle, an outsider in her town with a quest for knowledge, who takes her father’s place when he is held captive in an enchanted castle ruled by an angry Beast.

With the help of those in the castle, which include a talking clock and teapot, both Belle and the Beast experience personal transformations and end up living happily ever after.

On opening night, I took my 11-year-old daughter to see the show. I hadn’t seen “Beauty and the Beast” since I was her age when the 1991 animated film was released. She was more familiar, however, with last year’s live-action remake starring Emma Watson as Belle.

A highlight for her was the lavish production of the musical’s signature tune, “Be Our Guest.” Even as an adult, I must admit it’s difficult not to crack a smile when you see giant utensils dancing across the stage.

Along with an Academy Award-winning score, the play features some over-the-top characters: Gaston, played with vigor by Jarrett Jay Yoder; Lumiere, the comical talking candlestick portrayed by Jake Delaney; and Belle’s father Maurice, perfectly suited for SRT company actor Ty Smith.

New York City-based actress Brooke Quintana makes her SRT debut in the lead role of Belle. While she may be new to Sierra Rep, it’s clear she is no stranger to the role of Belle having previously portrayed her on a national tour of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

The set design, lighting and costumes all contribute to the magic of this story — something that can’t be experienced on a screen. SRT’s “Beauty and the Beast” is truly fun for all ages.

For show times and tickets, visit sierrarep.org​ or call (209) 532-3120.

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