The drama at opening night of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast began some fifteen minutes before curtain when ushers began coming through the theater instructing us that the touring company wanted us to put our phones away. I complied. As more people entered the theater more phones, father wants to snap a pic of their little one in front of the pre-show curtain, couples taking and posting selfies.
Eight minutes to curtain two Fort Worth police officers came into the theater, one down each aisle in instructing people to put their phone away. Not “no pictures”, phones must be put away before the show even starts. The touring company was adamant an usher told me.
I have attended some fifty odd Broadway shows, some on Broadway and have never seen this before. I am unclear why a four year old on Facebook in front of your curtain is an issue but I found it a really negative tone to start on. I have confirmed this is a touring company policy, their curtain is copyrighted and they do not want pictures taken, I wonder what Walt Disney would say? Is it not all about the joy and the magic for the children? That said…
You have no doubt heard me say that no one does Broadway like Disney and Beauty and the Beast is where it all began. In the early Nineties Disney and Houston’s Theater under the Stars both had the idea to take what the New York Times called 1991’s Best Musical to the stage but neither knew quite how to navigate the other’s world.
When Disney reached out and into the theater world looking for an LA theater that could pull off such a feat they were directed to Houston’s TUTS. Enter the talents of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and chances are you are going to have yourself a hit. Premiering at Houston’s Music Hall on November 28, 1993 Beauty would be the start of a Broadway Dynasty that soon will expand to include Frozen.
Beauty is the story of the selfish, spoiled young prince who turns away a beggar woman who then cautions him that beauty lies within. She curses him to live his life as unattractive on the outside as he is on the inside. As part of the curse his servants are gradually turned into various household objects, a clock, a candle, a tea pot. As time passes the servants and the beast have less chance of returning to their human form. The curse can only be broken if the beast finds true love. Enter Belle. A head strong, independent woman Belle is an unlikely match for the Beast and the chances of her falling in love with him seem slim.
This Twentieth Anniversary Tour is quite a spectacle to behold, it features bright stunning sets and costumes and the score is near perfection. The big bold production numbers including the irresistibly fun “Gaston”, the classic “Be Our Guest” and the sometimes deleted “Human Again” are a delight. A high point is the inclusion of “A Change in Me”. Written solely for Toni Braxton when she joined the cast in 1998 it was nice to find it here.
I saw the play some months ago in Dallas and found it tighter and a more enjoyable experience here. Jillian Butterfield as Belle is enchanting. Her headstrong Belle is sassy, her voice breathtaking. Ryan Everett Wood as Beast is instantly enthralling. His anger at the curse is overpowering and his struggle as he learns to overcome that anger elicits both cringes and laughs. His voice is as gorgeous as his beast is hideous. Kelly Teal Goyette as Madame De La Grand Bouche adds delightful comic relief whenever she is on stage.
The standout in this cast for me is Patrick Pevehouse as Lumiere. He is a joy to watch, his energy overtakes the stage anytime he is present. He is sexually suggestive in a delicious way and for me he is the highlight of the show.
Beauty and the Beast is a feast for old and young. The experience that only Bass Hall can offer in addition to this fun cast, vibrant atmosphere and the score you will likely already know make this night out a no brainer.
Beauty and the Beast plays Bass Hall through Sunday tickets are $49.50-$110 and available at http://www.basshall.com
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