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Disney's "Beauty and the Bewast"
a Musical
CATEGORY :
by Linda Woolverton, Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice

COMPANY : Theater of the Stars [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Fabulous Fox [WEBSITE]
ID# 3938

SHOWING : January 12, 2011 - January 16, 2011

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY EVER TOLD COMES TO LIFE!…

The lush, romantic Broadway musical for all generations

TALE AS OLD AS TIME, TRUE AS IT CAN BE.

Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the smash hit Broadway musical, is coming to Atlanta! Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, this eye-popping spectacle has won the hearts of over 35 million people worldwide.

This classic musical love story is filled with unforgettable characters, lavish sets and costumes, and dazzling production numbers including “Be Our Guest” and the beloved title song. Experience the romance and enchantment of Disney’s BEAUTY
AND THE BEAST at the Fox Theatre!


CAST & CREW LIST
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Tale as Old as Time
by Dedalus
Saturday, January 29, 2011
4.5
It’s a tale oft-told, familiar to anyone with a child-like heart. Inner beauty trapped in a hideous package. Innocent beauty losing her heart to a beast. Classic films by Cocteau and Disney told the tale, as did a cult TV series set in the tunnels and catacombs of Manhattan. And, as if by command from the gods of marketing, a full-blown stage musical of the Disney version of the story has become a regional favorite.

And now, Theatre of the Stars and Disney have mounted yet another national tour. It is a triumph of design, of theatricality, of performance. It is an evening away from the ice-in cabin fever of the past week, and it woke the child who forever lives in my own heart.

You know the story. Belle is a smart and imaginative young woman living in a peasant town whose residents can’t imagine more than the next meal, the next baguette, the next hunt. She makes a desperate deal to save her father and becomes the prisoner/guest of a fierce beast who rules angrily over an enchanted castle. Someone bends unexpectedly, and the beast reveals a heart of fuzzy gold. Will true love ignite before the last petal of the rose seals the spell forever?

In its transition from animated film to live-action stage spectacle, little is lost, but much is gained. What’s lost is the credibility of the enchanted household – no longer are they humanity-infused things of magic, but full-grown humans in odd costumes (some of which are surprisingly difficult to decipher – exactly how does Babette’s skimpy tutu suggest a feather duster?). What’s gained is the sense of you-are-there magic, of anger and terror that can’t transcend an animated drawing. What’s gained is a wider range of emotion from fear to love to despair to hope, and an immediacy that brings the characters to life, odd costumes and all.

This is a Beast who is absolutely threatening. I felt true fear for Belle as Justin Glaser glowers and towers and growls and attacks. The sense is real that he could do her real damage. And that makes his transition to repentant suitor all the more effective. It’s telling that he is given the best new song of the show, the rousing anthem “If I Can’t Love Her” that ends the first act. This is a Beast who absolutely wins us over, despite his anger and cruelty of early scenes.

This is a Belle who wins our hearts from the start. Liz Shivener sings like an angel, and creates a character who is sassy and original without betraying the cartoon we’ve become so familiar with over the years. She makes the Beast work hard for his redemption, and the change is all the more effective for that.

There are other changes that work well in the transition to the stage. I liked the rhythmic tankard-clangs in “Gaston” (now a full-blown production number), the puppetry of the wolves in the woods, the resurrection of “Human Again” (written for the movie but cut from the final release), new songs such as the aforementioned “If I Can’t Love Her” and Belle’s “A Change in Me,” familiar songs like “Be My Guest” and “Something There.” I also liked how some stage magic increased the theatricality, such as a talking Chip carried on a tray (with no dangling child-actor parts visible beneath), not to mention the illusion that is the final transformation of the Beast.

This is a cast that is almost perfect from top to bottom. As I mentioned, there is outstanding work from Ms. Shivener and Mr. Glaser in the lead roles, but I also want to commend Nathaniel Hackman’s beefy and baritone’d Gaston, Michael Fatica’s rubber-limbed comic turn as Lefou, and Merritt David Janes’ Gallic rascal Lumiere. If Sabina Petra comes across as more thin tumbler than stout teapot, she nevertheless acquits herself well with the title song and with her mother-hen assurance. Everyone else was equally effective in evoking the film characters and with telling the tale with passion and with humor and with well-harmonized song and dance.

And I loved the look and design of the show. At first glance extraordinarily busy with multiple frames of fleur-de-lis and curlicue, the framework of the set (by Stanley A. Meyer) soon takes on an organic feel as different scenes, equally ornate, grow out and complement the look. The lighting effects and color scheme (by Natasha Katz) are especially effective in setting the mood and repainting the set with a wide palette of color and tone and magical effect.

This is a show that looks nothing at all like the movie (costumes aside – Belle’s yellow ball gown could not possibly be replaced), but feels very much like it. It’s a new experience of a familiar story, and I strongly urge you to not let it pass you by.

It is, after all, a tale as old as time told in a way that is beautiful and not a little aww-inspiring.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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