Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.
The original creators of the Broadway production are together again for this new touring production! The play is directed by Rob Roth and choreographed by Matt West, with Costume Design by Ann Hould-Ward (Tony® Award winner for her work on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), Lighting Design by Natasha Katz, Scenic Design by Stanley A. Meyer, Sound Design by John Petrafesa Jr. and Music Supervision by Michael Kosarin.
Director Rob Roth: “It has been wonderful to bring the entire original design team back together to work on this new production of Beauty and the Beast. As a director, it is rare to have the opportunity to revisit your work 15 years later. Hopefully I’ve grown and developed as an artist, along with my collaborators, and we can bring 15 years of experience to this new production. We have remained very close as a team over the years of producing the show around the world, and it has been so much fun getting together to re-explore and re-invent the show for this new NETworks tour. The theme of ‘Beauty’ is about seeing past the exterior into the heart of someone, and this is reflected in the design for the show, which is about transparency and layers, seeing past one thing and into another.”
Unfortunately for feminism—but luckily for the audience—this production is bookended by two superstar men who snatch their scenes away from their heroine. Of course, no one goes to Beauty and the Beast to contemplate the story’s central love triangle. Disney made its mark on Broadway by mounting over-the-top, lavish productions based on its film properties. So while a strong heroine is all well and good, the real draw is the promise of singing and dancing forks, knives, and spoons. A good-versus-evil fight scene near the end of the show is staged with the kinetic charm and cleverness of old Warner Brothers cartoons, and all of the marauding housewares put in strong character performances.
(click play to see highlights from the show)
The film version was animated and automatically appealed to kids, so the characters didn’t have to act particularly cartoonish. Those responsible for the live version felt compelled to make it appeal to children, too, and made everything goofier to make up for the fact that it’s not animated anymore. The result is that many characters act more cartoonish in the stage version. It’s gotten sillier and broader, with way too many instances of LeFou being smacked around.
And that is why “Beauty and the Beast” as a live musical works so well: it can be appreciated on a variety of different levels. The kids will have plenty of spectacle and special effects, the adults get plenty of romance and comedy. There are even some pretty intense moments here for small children, but of course, everything works out well in the end. After all, this is Disney.