In a nutshell, the tale (as old as time) is about a cursed prince and his palace staff who are in search of true love’s cure, and the innocent woman who finds herself unknowingly cast into the role of a heroine that they hope can see inner beauty despite outward appearances.
As a long-time fan of Disney and the original fairy tale story, I found the original film version of the house of mouse’s Beauty and the Beast to be a delightful experience. The movie was filled with memorable Academy Award-winning music that you’d sing along with during later viewings, engaging characters, and stunning animation that often had you thinking that you were seeing actual sets instead of vibrant drawings (especially in the ballroom dance scene).
I believe that the story was the perfect fit for Disney’s first Broadway venture, and it has since stemmed a number of other stage works. In fact, according to their website, the Beauty and the Beast musical has become an international sensation that has played to over 35 million people worldwide in 13 countries.
The live-action presentation blends new original songs into the mix with those made famous by the animated film. With the heavy use of regal blues and golds, along with a medley of other vibrant hues, the costumers and set makers skillfully teamed to bring the allure of the animated cells to life.
The primary characters Belle, Beast, and Gaston come to life beautifully as if jumping from the film reel. But the same can’t be said for the house staff such as Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts. The supportive characters, when in their enchanted forms, loose the whimsy they had in the movie. For obvious reasons they have to be human size, which makes for a monstrous candelabra to say the least, that takes away from the whimsy of story. In the end, they look like nothing more than elaborate mascots or awkward cosplayer at a fan convention. And the incredibly cute chip was almost nonexistent in the new medium.
I highly suggest getting an orchestra level seat for this show. Our elevated seats, which had us looking downward on the stage, did not make for a visually appealing experience. The floor is painted in a vibrant blue and is layered with gold filigree designs that became visual pollution. The scenery, Tony Award-winning costumes, and props would swirl with the floor design allowing the details that I admire about live theater to get lost. So a straight-away view should alleviate that issue and allow for a more enjoyable viewing.
If you’re a fan of the movie, you’ll definitely find things to like about “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast the Smash Hit Broadway Musical.” It also affords a safe, family-friendly environment for those wishing to offer younger children a theater going experience. That can’t be said of all Broadway presentations. In fact, I think kids will be the ones to most enjoy the play, although it doesn’t speak down to them and divert from the original script basis.
But be warned, if you’ve seen their later stage ventures prior to joining the audience for this one (i.e. Lion King) you might come out of the performance a bit disappointed. But if you view is from the lens of it being Disney’s first Broadway musical and enjoy the great music that it offers it won’t be a disappointment. Especially if you have tykes in tow.
Although the show closed on the Great White Way back in July 2007 after a 13 year run, you can see its touring troupe. To find out when the Broadway musical will be headed to a playhouse near you, visit http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com.