Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre is inviting you to be their guest this month.

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is onstage now through July 9 with a special treat for families. “Beauty and the Beast” first debuted on Broadway in 1993 following the success of the Academy Award-winning animated film, which captured hearts in 1991 and was reimagined in live action in 2017 and 2022. The musical production was nominated for nine Tony Awards — including Best Musical.

Directed by Elizabeth Stark Payne, featuring choreography by Ron Moran and musical direction by Kristy Templet, the show includes Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s beloved songs from the movie and original Broadway production such as “Be Our Guest,” “Belle” and “Gaston.” Sponsored in part by Indy’s Child, the show is the featured Family Show of Beef and Boards 50th Anniversary Season.

Since this is a kid-friendly production and a beloved Disney Classic, the Recorder decided it was only fitting to have kids review the show for our readers. We sent our production manager Jeana Ouattara and her two sons, Adama, 11, and Djibril, 16, to the show and later sat down with them to hear how it went.

The overall pacing of “Beauty and the Beast” may be a tad complicated for some kids, both Adam and Djibril said the show was slow to get moving — at least in the beginning. Eventually the show began moving along and was quite enjoyable. 

It is likely not a secret that Beef and Boards outdid themselves with this cast, from Jameelah Leaundra as Belle, Logan Moore as Beast and Jon McHatton as Gaston. The cast, right down to the chorus members, were incredibly enjoyable to watch from the racial diversity, outstanding vocals and standout personalities as they interacted with the audience.

Belle (Jameelah Leaundra) reads "The Tale of King Arthur" to the Beast (Logan Moore) after he gives her the gift of the castle's library in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's production of “Beauty and the Beast,” now on stage through July 9.
Belle (Jameelah Leaundra) reads “The Tale of King Arthur” to the Beast (Logan Moore) after he gives her the gift of the castle’s library in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of “Beauty and the Beast,” now on stage through July 9. (Photo/Beef and Boards)

Leaundra and Moore immediately stole the audience’s (and the Ouattara boys’) hearts as Belle and Beast, and Adama said Leaundra’s portrayal of Belle was captivating on and offstage. He especially loved her singing voice and how gracefully she moved through the audience, interacting with members of the audience just as easily as the villagers in the story. 

The Beast was both boys’ favorite character of the whole production. Moore took the stage dressed in a variation of Disney’s classic Beast with furry, clawed gloves and a mask that covered his entire face — complete with horns and a mop of wild curly hair. Although Djibril said the mask looked like it would have been difficult to sing in and hid most of the Beast’s facial expression, he also said Moore’s singing was impressive and he “liked the difficulty of the role and how he (Moore) did it.”

However, Adama said the Beast was “too hairy” and “looked like the lion from ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

“I also like James (Patton),” Djibril added. “He plays many of the background characters, but he is great.”

The set for this show was dynamic as the bright colorful setting of the village contrasted the dark, cursed castle. Djibril said the show used digital projections on the screen in the background, lighting up old French-style houses for the village in bright yellows and oranges; a dark forest, with overgrown grass and tall trees where actors dressed as wolves awaited unsuspecting characters; and the lively pub where Belle’s father begs Gaston and LaFou to rescue his daughter.

What was interesting about this set was how the stage seemed to move and rotate on its own, changing from the main room of the castle to Belle’s room in an instant, Adama said. Cast members danced prop pieces around during scene changes, from flowers to books to Belle’s father’s workshop cart.

“The set is always smoothly changing,” Djibril said. “They use a mix of background and lights to move your attention.”

Costuming for this show was of the fancy variety, as both Adama and Djibril noted how creatively the castle staff such as Lumiere (Jonathan Studdard), Cogsworth (John Vessels), Mrs. Potts (Bridgette Ludlow) and Chip (Lucy Featherton) each had detailed and unique, layered outfits that implied their respective inanimate object rather than dressing them up entirely.

Les Filles de la Ville (Logan Hill, Jada Radford, and Abigail Simmon) swoon over Gaston (Jon McHatton) in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre's production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, now on stage through July 9.
Les Filles de la Ville (Logan Hill, Jada Radford, and Abigail Simmon) swoon over Gaston (Jon McHatton) in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, now on stage through July 9. (Photo/Beef and Boards)

“Be Our Guest” is the obvious choice for favorite number of the night as “everyone was in it and it was very fluid,” Djibril said.

Both also enjoyed “The Mob Song,” which featured Gaston and the ensemble. McHatton’s Gaston “was perfect,” and “came across as cocky with a nice voice,” according to Adama.

The show includes an element of magic in every scene, unlike the movie, the magic rose can be seen in every scene — even when Belle and her father are back in the village. “A mix of color and darkness,” it glowed bright red and seemed to drop petals like a real rose, Djibril said.

Overall, Beef and Boards’ “Beauty and the Beast” is worth a night out with the kiddos. Adama and Djibril both said they loved it and would go see it again — and Adama does not even like musicals, so that is high praise.

“Beauty and the Beast” is showing at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, 9301 Michigan Road, for 64 performances through July 9 on weekdays and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m., Sunday evenings at 7 p.m., and select matinees at 1 p.m. The show is recommended for children ages three and up, as the production includes sound effects such as gunshots and growling as well as strobe lighting and fog effects.

A dinner buffet and select beverages will be available prior to each show. Tickets start at $52.50 and are available to purchase at Discounts are available for children ages 3-13 and children under 3 years old are not permitted.

Adama Ouattara and Djibril Ouattara contributed to this review.

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.