Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Disney's Beauty and the Beast Theatre Review

The Enchanted Objects of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. (Photo: Amy Boyle)

Magic Stuff... for Kids Only
by Josh Simon (Contributing Editor)

It’s a tale as old as time; but quite frankly, it's beginning to show its age. Then again, I might be biased... considering I'm over ten years old, and have had more than enough exposure to the story, characters, and merchandise. But with the current touring production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast (at Warner Theatre through January 11) familiarity brings along inevitable tediousness.

That's not to say a young child wouldn't enjoy the show immensely. It's definitely geared towards the under-ten crowd. Looking around, I saw many young faces staring in rapt attention to the magic onstage. Unfortunately, that magic doesn't always trickle down to the adults accompanying their children.

Just in case you don't know, the story revolves around Belle, a beauty from a faraway village, regarded by the provincial townsfolk as odd due to her “unladylike” affinity for books and learning. She comes upon the Beast of the title, a prince cursed for his heartlessness, now forced to live in his enchanted castle with his staff, all slowly turning into inanimate household objects. Only finding true love can break the curse in time.

Highlights of the show include the sweetly-sung vocals of Jillian Butterfield’s Belle, and the enchanted tea kettle - Mrs. Potts (Emily Jewell,) who shoulders the responsibility of the famed title song. Other positives include the comedic timing of script-milking supporting players, such as Samuel Shurtleff’s Type A talking clock, Cogsworth, and a hilarious Kelly Teal Goyette as the opera-singing wardrobe.

As dancing candlestick extraordinaire Lumiere, Patrick Pevehouse could afford to dial down the raunchiness, but he manages to lead famous showstopper “Be Our Guest” with boundless energy. A lesser known, but no less impressive number is “Gaston,” an ode to the show’s odious villain (Cameron Bond) led by his sidekick Lefou (Jake Bridges, in an extremely physical and strong performance). As for the Beast himself, Ryan Everett Wood’s performance is solid, occasionally venturing into uncharacteristic buffoonery. Some of his choices don’t always land at the right angle, as he tumbles and thrashes about the glorified jungle-gym set that constitutes the enchanted castle.

Despite a few shortcomings, it's hard to ignore a conversation I overheard between a little girl and her parent/guardian, while walking out of the theater. The aforementioned adult asked the girl what her favorite part of the show was. “All of the magic stuff!” she replied excitedly. I suppose... even with an overcooked fairy tale, a little bit of "magic stuff" goes a long way with the right audience.

Grade: C+