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Disney's Beauty and the Beast

a Musical
by unknown

COMPANY : Atlanta Broadway Series [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Fabulous Fox [WEBSITE]
ID# 158

SHOWING : January 03, 2001 - January 14, 2001



Disney's Beauty and the Beast is an enchanting love story that delights audiences of all ages. Based on the award-winning animated feature film, Disney's smash hit Broadway musical extravaganza is filled with technical wizardry, special effects and illusions, as well as dazzling production numbers. Beauty and the Beast is the story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial French town, yearning for adventure in the world outside her village. It is also the story of the Beast, in reality a young prince, whose lack of compassion has trapped him in a spell placed by an evil enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse that encircles his castle and his staff will end and all will be transformed to their former human selves. Time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed.

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Not a Beast, but not a Beauty either
by StageLizard
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.


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