After recently attending Disney's “Beauty and the Beast” last Tuesday at the Orpheum, I was blown away by the grandeur and magnificence of it all. Based on the classic and Academy award-winning animated movie, this show took everything that I loved about the movie and increased it tenfold. With amazing performances by the actors along with an incredible pit and an absolutely mind blowing set, this is a show that I won't be forgetting soon.
If I were to try and give praise to each individual actor that I enjoyed, this review would become dull and redundant. There were so many fantastic performances by the cast members that I couldn't name all of them, however some that stood out to me especially was Cogsworth (James May) and Lumiere (Hassan Nazari-Robati) and their hilarious banter, and the slapstick humor between Lafou (Jimmy Larkin) and Gaston (an understudy, Jeff Brooks).
Belle (Hilary Maiberger) and the Beast (Darick Pead) also did spectacularly, however the Beast did seem a little too bratty and not as “beastly” as he should have been.
That's not to say that the ensemble was bad, or even average. They proved to me how amazing a great ensemble can be with the dance number in “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest”. The talent of each individual cast member is amazing, and their training and ability is really showed with not only how synchronized they are, but with the energy and excitement they give off during their performance.
My main gripe with the performance though was with the understudy, Jeff Brooks. Although as an actor he did a fantastic job portraying the character, as a singer you could definitely tell he was a tenor, and not a baritone or a bass like the character was written to be. This caused him to lack some of the vocal intensity the role normally has when he belts out those high notes and causes the audience to wish for a bit more, especially in “The Mob Song”. It didn't subtract from the show as a whole though, and I was still blown away by his singing ability nonetheless.
The technical aspect of the show were one of the highlights as well. The costumes – Especially in “Be Our Guest” - were glamorous and bright, the set made the village feel bustling and fun and the castle either brooding and malevolent or magical and lively depending on the scene.
The special effects were the most memorable though, and the quick changes from Human to Beast and Beast to Human left me in wonder and awe. With confetti flying through the audience and flashing lights all around, combined with the musical genius of Alan Menken and Tim Rice, made the magic of theatre even more magical.
Even though I found some things to complain about, “Beauty and the Beast” is likely to be one of the best shows to grace the Orpheum stage this season, and I would love the chance to see this show over and over again. Luckily, you can as the show runs October 16 -21, and tickets are available online at www.hennepintheatretrust.org.
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