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Synetic’s Beauty and the Beast Conquers All

Synetic’s Beauty and the Beast Conquers All

Beauty and the Beast
Synetic Theater
Jordan Wright
March 7, 2023
Special to The Zebra


Irina Kavsadze as Belle with Zana Gankhuyag as the Beast (Photo/Elman Studios)

With his son Vato by his side, a standing ovation greeted Synetic co-founder, Paata Tsikurshvili as he stood onstage for the opening night of Beauty and the Beast. Paata had been in a serious car crash last December and seeing him in good health thrilled the audience of longtime supporters. As Founding Artistic Director of the highly creative Georgian troupe, Paata along with his choreographer wife, Irina, has continued to shepherd their wildly successful productions since their formation in 2009.

The troupe, which was to star father and son for the first time together on stage in years, had scheduled War of the Worlds for the March slot, but with Paata’s accident in mind pivoted to a version of one of their earlier successes. It was a night filled with anticipation and emotion.

Rachael Small as Emmeranne (Witch), Nutsa Tediashvili as Claudette (Sister), Irina Kavsadze as Belle, and Irene Hamilton as Marie (Sister) (Photo/Elman Studios)

“Everyone knows that crows don’t talk,” quoth Emmerane (Rachael Small) clad as a Goth crow who is both keeper of the legend and narrator of the story. In this ancient folk tale, lies the myth of the prince turned into a beast and restored to his former self through the love of a beautiful and kindly woman. In typical Synetic fashion, humor is interspersed with raging fight scenes, extraordinary acrobatics and romantic dance.

The opening scene finds the beautiful Belle (Irina Kavsadze) with her two adorably silly sisters Claudette (Nutsa Tediashvili) and Marie (Irene Hamilton) as they prepare to bid farewell to their father, John Paul (Irakli Kavsadze), off to retrieve his ship laden with fine goods. Claudette and Marie comically primp and pose, begging their father to bring them back jewels and finery. They tussle over Avenant (Jacob Thompson) a handsome prince who has eyes only for Belle. When Belle becomes lost in the woods while searching for her father, The Beast (Zana Gankhuyag) portrayed as half-man half-forest animal, rescues her from a pack of hungry wolves and takes her to his castle. The story remains close to the original with the addition of the astounding, gravity-defying physicality and clever mime routines.

Rachael Small as Emmeranne (Witch) with Irakli Kavsadze as Jean Paul (Father), Irina Kavsadze as Belle, Nutsa Tediashvili as Claudette (Sister), and Irene Hamilton as Marie (Sister) (Photo/Elman Studios)

To great effect, Director/Adaptor Ben Cunis features some of the chase scenes with black-and-white, backlit, silhouette artistry reminiscent of Arthur Rackham’s beautifully illustrated “Sleeping Beauty”. With this original interpretation there are breathtaking dramatic scenes mixed with deeply emotional poignancy – all with very little speaking. Some of the most incredible battle scenes you’ll ever witness in a theater come from the creative minds of Co-Director and Fight Choreographer Vato Tsikurishvili and Choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili.

I must confess I was particularly taken by Gankhuyag as The Beast. His terrifying entrance morphing seamlessly into a kind and caring lover, is both haunting and memorable and notable too is Small in the role of Emmerlane who held the audience captive as her speaking role predicated the story line. In the fight scenes both Synetic alum Philip Fletcher as Magnificent and Jacob Thompson as Avenant were utterly captivating with their dead falls and eye-popping leaps that catapulted the duo across the stage to audible gasps from the appreciative audience.

We all need fairy tales and this one is immortal. Not for children, but teens and adults will love it. Highly recommended.

Irina Kavsadze as Belle with Zana (Photo/Elman Studios)

Ensemble members Osama Ashour and Lev Belolipetski.

Co-Adaptor, Peter Cunis; Original Music by Clint Herring and Andrew Gerlicher; Puppet Designer, Zana Gankhuyag; Original Costume Designer, Kendra Rai; Remount Costume Designer, Delaney Theisz.

Through April 2nd at Synetic Theater at Crystal City, 1800 South Bell Street, Arlington, VA 22202. For tickets and information visit or call the box office at 703 824-8060 x 117.

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