In case you were locked away in a castle somewhere and didn’t already know, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was here and has gone. It seems like ten years since Beauty and the Beast last toured through Seattle (Village Theatre staged a local production in 2008). In this familiar French fairy tale – as old as time – (mid-18th century to be exact), Disney brings their popular 1991 animated film back to the stage for its 4th national touring production. It’s the classic story of beautiful girl meets bearish yet big hearted beast and they eventually fall in love.
The opening night performance in Seattle was delayed nearly a week because the troupe’s caravan couldn’t make it over the pass in time due to snow, so opening night was actually the last performance of the run. While this production had all the familiar scenes and tunes to warm the heart of every little wannabe princess, it added several new songs by Tim Rice. The production also featured an impressive 580 costume pieces and 81 wigs, along with 36 mugs in Gaston’s tavern, which are used as percussion instruments during one of the songs.
The first time I saw the film 20 years ago it was such an enchanting and intoxicating love story. And this stage production had all the polish and magic glitter you have come to expect from Disney. In fact, the production was so familiar it was almost too familiar. Predictable, however the Beast was able to add several nuances to the dialogue to keep adult audiences entertained through wisecracks and sarcasm.
Belle is as beautiful looking and sounding as any provincial bookworm you’ll ever see and her father, Maurice, is every bit as quirky and crazy as you’d expect – why he’s not crazy, he’s a genius – but it’s Gaston, played by Bothell’s own Logan Denninghoff, who helps steal the show with his nearly flawless depiction of the handsomely brawny but chauvinistic hunter, who boasts that every last inch of him’s covered in hair.
And who doesn’t love Lumiere the French candlestick, played by Michael Haller, and he has the best performance of the entire group. Such an important character in the show to get right.
But this performance wasn’t as memorable for me as in the past. Little details seemed to pester me. For example, the Beast’s transformation back into a prince was staged with bright flashing lights instead of using those beautiful sparkling pyrotechnics.
These touring Broadway shows at the Paramount come and go so quickly. While Beauty is the Beast on stage is no Lion King, it still is one of Disney’s most popular stage shows and holds a special spot in the heart of so many Disney fans. One thing for sure is just about every performance was close to capacity.
Next up at The Paramount Theatre, every dancing queen’s favorite musical Mamma Mia, runs March 20–25, 2012 and next month it’s the longest running, most popular show ever, CATS April 17-22, 2012. I hear tickets to both those shows are going very fast. We will feature more info about both soon. For tickets and showtimes visit www.stgpresents.org.