Beauty and the Beast
Also see Susan's review of The Nutcracker
The method of storytelling goes beyond Synetic's skill with movement as a means of emotional expression. A narrator named Emmeranne (Renata Veberyte Loman) sets up the backstory as actors present the action in silhouette behind a screenan effect that depicts how a witch transformed a selfish prince (Vato Tsikurishvili) into a beast with a bearlike body and ram's horns, and the circumstances that led to the meeting between the Beast and pretty and intelligent Belle (Irina Kavsadze).
As affecting and sympathetic as Kavsadze's characterization is, this is the Beast's show, and Vato Tsikurishvili ably conveys the anguish and frustration of his character while leaping off high platforms, defying gravity by somersaulting up a slope, and generally revealing human passions in animal terms. Loman is a commanding presence whenever she appears, and Matthew Alan Ward makes an impression as the Beast's cadaverous butler.
Along with the depth of the performances, the overall sense of the production is richly Gothic. Daniel Pinha's scenic design centers on that "magic" revolving screen, surrounded by drooping swags of ragged fabric that somehow suggest heat and decadence. The qualities of Brittany Diliberto's lighting design shift with the changing moods, while Kendra Rai's costumes range from Belle's artless dress, and later her flowing gown, to the grayish-beige body coverings for the Beast's servants.