OK, it is not a secret that I love going to Bass Hall in Fort Worth. There is no one thing, it is a combination of so many. The lively downtown, the amazing restaurants around the theater, the beautiful architecture of the hall, and people in Fort Worth dress to go to the theater (sadly that is no longer the case in Dallas). But that is not why we are here.
The show starts before the show with a fashion show of sorts, there are many Little Belle's (the title character) entering the theater in amazing little gowns full of frills and sparkles. Sitting on the Patio of Ferre across from the entrance to the theatre was a perfect spot to enjoy an endless parade of precious little ones come to see their heroine.
Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and a book by Linda Woolverton, based on the 1991 Disney film of the same name. The story is of a prince who's charmed life has led him to become an arrogant, selfish ass, who will not help a poor old homeless woman when she comes begging for shelter from the cold. She warns him appearances can be deceiving and to beware of shunning her, he does not heed her warning and she cast a spell that turns him into a beast. The spell also affects the members of his household staff who will slowly lose their humanness. The spell can only be reversed if he learns to love someone, and they love him in return.
We are then introduced to Belle, who, while the most beautiful girl in the village is an outcast. She is enthralled by books, intrigued by the worlds of excitement and adventure she finds in them. She is the obsession of Gaston, the village heartthrob, who she wants nothing to do with. Through a series of events that I won't detail here she ends up as captive of the Beast in his castle, where everyone but Belle knows this is the only chance they have to reverse the spell. The Beast has to make Belle fall in love with him.
This show shines brightly in many areas, one of the brightest is the costume and set design. It is amazing to me how they are literally able to make animation come to life. It was as if I was in a cartoon, I can only imagine it was the same for the many young ones in the audience.
Never fear, there is plenty here for the gay audience. Gaston, the heartthrob and his sidekick Lefou share a long kiss, by mistake, or is it? There is quite a vibe between these two and I think just maybe they are on the DL! The music is fantastic, the standout numbers are a showstopping number called “Gaston” where Gaston, Lafou, and the patrons of the local tavern sing and dance and use their metal beer mugs as well choreographed musical instruments. The other standout is “A Change In Me”, in which Belle realizes that her situation has not changed, she has. It is a perfect moment in a near perfect production.
Dane Agostinis is delightful as the Beast. I felt his anger and pain, and began to root for him before it was over. Logan Denninghoff is delicious as Gaston, Andrew Kruep is Fantastic as Lefou, his constant foils and foibles are a delight for the kids in the audience. Michael Haller is great fun as Luminere, listening to Julia Louise Hosack sing as Ms. Potts, the role made famous by Angela Landbury on Broadway was such a joy. That all said, the star of this show in every sence is Emily Behny as Belle. Her voice is pure perfection and she could easily voice any Disney heroine on stage or on film.
Beauty & The Beast is Fantastical as GaGa would say. For a few hours I was a kid again, I was lost in the magic that is in every way Disney, and it was good.
Beauty & The Beast plays Bass Hall through Sunday, April 24th. Tickets are $33-$82.50 and available at www.basshall.com.
Coming to the Bass Hall next weekend on Saturday, April 30th An Evening with Shirley MacLaine, the actress, dancer and best selling author will combine a montage of memorable film moments with private revelations about her extraordinary life, career and spiritual journey. Sunday, May 1st host of the Late Late Show Craig Ferguson returns to Bass Hall three years after selling out the hall and receiving rave reviews for his unique humor.
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