You may have noticed in the past that I’m not usually free with my effusive praise. I try to write in a way that is appreciative of the creators of theater and which serves you, the potential theater-goer.

I’m your “friend who goes to the theater” and tries to offer you some insight into what you’re going to experience, without acting like I write press releases for a living. I tell you all that to tell you this: Maine State Music Theatre’s current production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” is amazing, stunning, excellent, mesmerizing and joy-inducing. So, there’s that.

Director/choreographers Marc Robin and Curt Dale Clark bring a stellar cast to the stage in this “tale that’s old as time.” Frequently, there is an aspect of a show that’s the strongest; the acting was okay, but the singing was great, the costumes were beautiful, but the choreography was lazy. At the risk of being overly complimentary, and mixing metaphors, this is a show that’s firing on all cylinders.

The costumes are appropriately fanciful, ridiculous and simultaneously credible. The set, sounds and multimedia special effects are, well, effective. As a voice over artist, I particular loved when they were able to make the cast voices echo when they were supposed to be in an expansive space. My inner audio nerd was pleased.

The choreography is breathtaking. From the rousing, frenetically whimsical ensemble piece “Be Our Guest,” which received such applause there was a pause in the show, to the ludicrously fun “Gaston,” the musical numbers are intricate chaos interspersed with acrobatics, clever interactions, kicklines and tap. The latter always causes a percentage of the audience to sit up and forward a little in their seats, myself included.

What cannot be understated is the importance of the one-two punch of casting and talent in this production. The casting was excellent across the board. It’s obvious that a few of these actors have played the role in previous productions, including the national tour and on Broadway. Even those for whom this was the first time in the role, they really became the character in a way that allows the audience to buy in to the fairy tale on so many levels.

Lexi Rabadi, in the role of Belle, has an incredible voice and is a talented actress who gives a contemporary vibe and authentic arc to her character’s evolution. Darick Pead portrays the Beast/Prince with movement, mannerisms and gestures which endear him to the audience, so that he wins us as he wins Belle.

The duo of Gaston and Lefou, along with Lumiere are played by Matthew Ragas, Ethan Carlson and James Patterson, respectively, and are the most animated of players, bringing forth the essence of the Disney movie which originated these characters.

John Reeger (Cogsworth), Bria Jene’ Williams (Babette), Paula Scrofano (Mrs. Potts) and Susan Moniz (Madame de la Grande Bouche) round out a very strong primary cast of enchanted characters, and are supported by an enthusiastic, talented and invested remaining ensemble.

In addition to the leadership of Robin and Clark, the music director is Brian Cimmet with Assistant Music Director Ben McNaboe. Costume design is by Ryan Moller, lighting by Jeffrey S. Koger, projections design by Dan Efros, assistant projection design by Ryan Swift Joyner, set design by Tom Ryan, sound design by Shannon Slaton and wigs design by Gerard James Kelly.

It’s at this point I always want to fan open a copy of the program so that you can see the dozens of administrative, production and technical staff who, together with an extensive and dedicated volunteer staff, board members and sponsors, bring you Broadway-quality productions here in the Midcoast. It’s no small feat, and with this, the most expensive production ever undertaken by MSMT, they have outdone even themselves.

“Beauty and the Beast” runs through July 14. Tickets are available at or 725-8769; or in person by visiting the Box Office located at the Pickard Theater at 1 Bath Road in Brunswick.

Tamara Lilly is a Woolwich native with 30-plus years as performer, tech, producer, director, teacher, board member and staff at community theaters in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Maine. Find the Stage Door Diva Podcast on iTunes or Tamara can be reached at: [email protected].