“Tale As Old As Time” Is Nothing New

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Growing up, Belle was my favorite Disney Princess, so my excitement was high going into Tuesday’s performance of Beauty and the Beast. One of the most striking things about the show was the set. Both visually beautiful and multipurpose, the set put the audience into multiple settings. In several cases, the same pieces of set had several purposes it serves based on how it was turned or how it was lit. The lighting also played a huge role in pulling the audience into the story. The lights created drama and emphasis without being overwhelming or distracting. The costuming was amazing, Belle’s iconic yellow dress was incredible. One unexpected aspect of this show was puppetry. They used puppets to represent the wolves and the enchantress. These puppets really made these characters, especially the wolves come alive. One of the most spectacular aspects of this show was the choreography. There were magnificent dance numbers that created just absolutely beautiful stage pictures. All of these things together made a visually beautiful show.

This production of the show focused on the humor, especially the physical humor. This choice really emphasized Lefou (Tony D’Alelio) and Lumiere (Patrick Pevehouse). Both had great stage presence, and had the audience roaring with laughter. Though it was these two that carried the physical comedy of the show, almost every character who spoke had a one-liner that had the entire audience laughing.

Aside from these things, there were some choices made in the production of this show that detracted from it. The biggest of these for me was making Belle too perfect, she lost many of the endearing flaws that she has in the original story. This made her a character that was hard to connect to, even during deeply emotional songs. Another directorial choice that was jarring from the show was the forced comedy for the Beast, this included several high pitched, very human sounding screams, that broke the Beast’s established character. The sexualization of Lumiere’s comedy, was funny to an older audience, but with the context of Beauty and the Beast being a children’s show, was borderline inappropriate.

Another choice that removed the audience from the story, interestingly enough, was that many lines, and songs were performed directly to the audience, almost but not quite breaking the fourth wall. This was jarring because it made the show feel cheesy. Though sometimes having some cheesiness in children’s shows can be fun, it felt excessive.

Beauty and the Beast is showing at the Orpheum between March 10th and March 15th. It is a fun show, full of laughs, and would be especially fun for younger audiences. One warning before this show is that is does contain some relatively intense strobe lights. I would recommend this show if you are looking for a way to remember a childhood classic, but without the nostalgia, it’s nothing special.