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Atlanta Broadway Series1
Dad's Garage Theatre Company1
Average Rating Given : 3.00000
Reviews in Last 6 months :

Disney's Beauty and the Beast, by unknown
Not a Beast, but not a Beauty either
Sunday, January 7, 2001
Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" has set up camp at the Fox Theatre for a couple of weeks. If you've never seen the show (and you're a fan of musicals and/or Disney), you should try to get some decent seats and go enjoy! For first-timers, it's a fun treat.

But that's where the good news ends.

If you've seen a production of "Beauty" before - either on Broadway or the touring company that stopped by Atlanta three or so years ago - I think you will be disappointed with this production.

Since I've seen both the Broadway and previous touring shows, my review will, inevitably, be slanted towards a comparison - primarily with the previous touring company.

If you've seen the Disney animated feature of "Beauty," you already know the plot and most of the songs in the show. (A few songs were added to the stage show that weren't in the animated version.) At times, it's striking how similar the stage and movie versions are. The producers (writer, director, etc.) did an excellent job of transforming animation to live action. Again, first-timers will be impressed; however, multi-timers might not be - here's why

The cast: Everyone seems a bit tired. (Maybe they're suffering from post-holiday blahs?) While most performers in the cast are adequate singers, dancers, and actors, there are no first-rate singers, dancers, or actors to be found among the principals. Disney sent out the second string for this tour.

The sets/scenery: The bean counters have sliced and diced the set to a mere shadow of its former self. The sets on the previous tour were truly magical - you almost got the feeling that the Fox stage had turned into a dark, cavernous castle with a multitude of rooms, including a huge library OR had turned into a small French village OR had turned into Gaston's grand (gaudy) hunting lodge/bar.

This time, however, you must call upon your imagination a bit more get a true location feeling. Sure, the sets are, on the whole, better than most touring shows that pass through, but when you know what it could be, it's a little disappointing. Instead of the Beast's huge library, you get, oh, a bookcase. Instead of life-sized buildings in the French village, you get one - with a painted hint of others. Instead of a great hunting lodge decorated with deer antlers and antler chandlers, you get mostly a backdrop. Better than most, but not as good as it could be.

The sound: Many sound engineers have a difficult time getting good, clear sound at the Fox. (Remember, it was built not with the idea of hosting complicated stage plays, but for showing movies.) Still, the "Beauty" sounds folks did a great job of getting it right. (But, as I've learned, just because the sound was good from my vantage point doesn't mean that the sound will be good all over the house. Frequently, the sound quality is somewhat poorer upstairs and at the extreme right and left downstairs.) And it's a good thing that the sound was as good as it was because there were plenty of "whispering" children who were not on their best theatre-going behavior. (Which, I guess, is to be expected at a play oriented towards the younger crowd.)

As far as I have seen, Disney is a stickler for high quality - from the cleanliness of its theme parks' rest rooms to its stage productions. While you can still see glimpses of Disney's regard for quality in the current touring production of "Beauty and the Beast," it's also evident that the company has lowered its standards a little for this show. And, as we all know, it boils down to the bottom line: Less complicated sets equals fewer trucks to haul it and fewer people to set it up; "B" grade talent equals a smaller payroll. Add it together and you get something less than it could be.

But this is a Disney production. This is not a revival show starring John Davidson that has a minuscule budget with minuscule expectations. This is Disney, and it should be, could be, and has been better. As the saying goes - okay, it's MY saying, but it's still pretty good - you never expect to find a dirty rest room at Walt Disney World and you never expect find a clean one at Six Flags. While Disney hasn't slipped anywhere near the sub-par Six Flags with this show, a slip is still a slip. They need to mind their history.

And again, in case you ignored me the first few times: If you have never seen a stage production of "Beauty," you will enjoy the current production. But, if you have seen another production, save your money and hope that the next tour gets its groove back.

Chick & Boozie's Fun Time Holiday Special, by Chick Starley & Boozie the Imp
Ho Ho Hilarious mixed with Ho Ho Hummmm
Wednesday, December 20, 2000
At Dad's Garage, it's sometimes hard to tell if the often-funny sub-par production values are part of the show or simply the way it has to be for a budget-conscious theatre company. And such is the case with "Chick & Boozy's Fun-Time Holiday Special."

Chick Starley (played by the show's writer and director, Chris Blair) and Boozy the Imp (puppeted and voiced by Lucky Yates) host a holiday variety show from Chick's swinging bachelor pad. Chick, once considered a "big star" because he had a few lines in unmemorable films, has been reduced to a has-been (never was?) who tries to re-live his salad days by inviting second-rate acts to appear on his in-house holiday special. Between the variety acts, Chick and Boozy exchange sometimes witty repartee, which swings from the hilarious (Boozy's version of "The Little Drummer Boy") to the not-so-funny.

Odd thing is, however, that Chris Blair and Lucky Yates occasionally seemed to forget their lines (mostly Blair). Which leads me to wonder if they were ad-libbing a lot of the filler dialogue or if Blair couldn't remember the lines he had written (and directed)! I hope it was former. Otherwise, Blair and Yates served well as hosts to the parade of misfits, but a little polish wouldn't have hurt.

Also between the variety acts, we were treated to the Franzia Foxes - dancing girls in short, red skirts. (Franzia Foxes also served to move a lot of the props and scenery around.)

The acts on Chick and Boozy's variety show consisted of a circus-style dog act, a vampire Santa skit, a "white trash" Christmas sweatshirt fashion show, campy lounge singers, a parody of Seigfried and Roy, among others.

While most of the acts were funny and well done, some of them suffered from the aforementioned production problems. For instance, the campy lounge singers (similar to the Carpenters - had Karen lived and had Richard played the electric guitar instead of the piano) had great potential, but the guitar frequently drowned out the vocals. That might have been intentional, but in order for "campy" to work, we must be able to hear the campy songs, right?

Another instance of a microphone gone bad was during the Christmas sweatshirt fashion show. The hostess of the show (whose name I regrettably can't remember) seemed to be quite funny with her descriptions of the sweatshirts. Unfortunately, the audience heard only three out of five words she spoke. Was it intentional or was it ancient sound equipment? I don't know. (The performers at Dad's Garage usually do not need microphones in their small theatre; so maybe the technicians are not used to - nor have the equipment to - balance amplified sound properly.)

The finale of the show, a parody of Seigfried and Roy's Las Vegas extravaganza, also had great potential. This time, however, it wasn't the sound equipment hindering the performance - it was the writing and directing. While at times very funny, the skit was directed to run much longer than the material dictated. (Like a "Saturday Night Live" skit that doesn't know where to go or when to stop.)

Overall, "Chick & Boozy's" at Dad's Garage is fun and funny (as are most productions at this funky little theatre). And, as always, the actors are top-notch comedians. (The program for the show mostly grouped everyone into an "Ensemble" category, so I'm not able to list any of the standouts.) The cast and crew could have used another week or so of rehearsals to work out (and fine tune) the dialogue, pacing, and sound. If I'm wrong and the production problems were intentional, then they also needed to work on making those problems integrate believably within the play.

Sogo see "Chick & Boozy's" because you'll recognize the potential that Dad's Garage has and you will want to go back to see their other productions. Even when their efforts aren't absolutely wonderful, the ensemble at Dad's Garage is always good and, most times, better than other similar theatre ensembles.

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