“Beauty and the Beast” musical: Spellbinding, if formulaic

Print

For those who have not previously seen Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the bar was set by Disney’s 1991 animated film.  The fact that the show is a Broadway musical set the bar even higher. Overall the production was very entertaining, with assaults of bright colors, elaborate dance routines, and strong vocal performances.

Although the show was frequently spellbinding, it was also formulaic and familiar.  The glittery costumes were identical to those in the animated Disney film, with little variation.  At times, the actors’ voices sounded eerily similar to those in the film.  While the film brought much imagination and creativity to the story of Beauty and the Beast, the play simply duplicated what the film did.  The Broadway production met but did not exceed my expectations.

Aside from the sense of deja vu the production held, it was a very entertaining show.  The young children walked out of the theatre with the same excitement they walked in with.  There were even a surprising number of young girls dressed in Belle’s iconic yellow ball gown. To the show’s credit, it was able to keep young children, both boys and girls entertained for more than two hours.

The set was ever-changing, showing many different sceneries from the town square, to Belle’s house, to the Beast’s castle.  The pieces that were used for the interior of the Beast’s castle had a range of purposes such as a staircase, a bed, and even the library.  The set changes and rotations did not only occur in between scenes, but during scenes.  The transitions seemed fairly effortless, but they added an imaginative layer to the production.

The costumes, though identical to the movie’s, were quite a spectacle.  Glitter was present in nearly every costume, making them look spectacular from the audience perspective.  Parents should be prepared for their children to want to be their favorite character from Beauty and the Beast for Halloween.  Another technical element that made the show shine were the wolf puppets.  They had a definite note of Disney animation brought to life. The lighting and screen used during the scenes with the wolves made them look alive and real. 

The story itself had action, romance, comedy, and drama.  The characters were your stereotypical crowd- the fussy butler, the diva, the innocent princess, and the male chauvinist.  Each character was unique in their own way, creating dynamic relationships between characters.  The slapstick humor often used by Gaston and Lefou may get a bit old to adult audiences, but it earned laughter from the children each time.  The temper tantrums and awkwardness that followed the Beast were clever and the audience responded positively with laughter.  The enchanted objects brought their own sparks to the show that added a heartwarming element to the story.

Be Our Guest was the biggest musical number in the show, though the classic title number Beauty and the Beast may have been the most memorable. The audience was enchanted and mesmerized as household objects danced across the stage during Be Our Guest.  The streamers falling from the balcony were an added bonus.  Gaston was the most comedic of the musical numbers, and Jeff Brooks’ energy carried on through out the whole musical number.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a fantastic show for children, and a must for anyone who is a fan of the animated movie.  Despite the lack of fresh elements, the show was very entertaining and will captivate and enchant audiences of all ages.