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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 24 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 43
Beauty and the Beast still enchants
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Beauty and the Beast still enchants

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
October 21-26


The Disney musical Beauty and the Beast is here for a short time, but has already begun to cast its magic over the Emerald City. The musical based on the full-length animated feature is well known and still holds its own when charming audiences.

The story is quite familiar from fairy tales. Belle is the beautiful young girl who would rather read a book than pay attention to the frivolous activities of the other town folk. Somewhat an outcast for living with her father, an eccentric inventor, Belle quickly catches the eye of the megalomaniac Gaston, a 'He-Man' in every sense, whom she would rather ignore. When Belle's father stumbles upon an enchanted castle in the woods he is held captive by its Master, a ferocious beast. Because of the Beast's previous behavior, the castle and all who reside there are under a spell transforming all the people into objects representing their social positions. Belle sets out to find her father only to become captive, trading her freedom for her father's. Soon all in the castle are hoping she is able to break the curse before time runs out. What starts out as a gruff opposition quickly becomes charming as both Belle and the Beast learn to look past the outer shell and inside where the true beauty resides.

Jillian Butterfield plays Belle, the beauteous, book-studious young girl. Her energy is perfect for the part, being perky and knowing where to put on a stubborn stance for her character. Her voice is clear and easily hits the notes required with a pleasant sound and good range. Cameron Bond plays the peacock Gaston with much overdone bravado - as the role calls for. His voice is well suited for the lower notes and he portrays Gaston's arrogance with good facial expressions and body language. Jake Bridges plays Lefou, Gaston's comic sidekick. His clown-like antics are perfect for the character's buffoonery and Mr. Bridges does it without becoming a stereotype. Ryan Everett Wood is the man inside the beast. It is, of course, the main role that carries the show and Mr. Wood does not disappoint. His portrayal is a good combination of ferociousness needed to intimidate the young captive Belle, and good-natured humor, all without breaking out of the beast's nature. His voice is strong and when he performs the closing number of Act One ('If I Can't Love Her'), the audience can't help but feel his pain and surrender to empathy.

Everyone in the ensemble does a good job, with each of them given a moment to shine. Patrick Pevehouse as the candlestick, Lumiere, is excellent combining humor for both adult and children audience members. His character becomes fully alive when leading the cast in the crowd-pleaser (and one of the two breakaway numbers) 'Be Our Guest.' Samuel Shurtleff as the clock, Cogsworth, adds his own flair as Lumiere's stuffy sidekick, playing the 'straight man' very well. Emily Jewell as Mrs. Potts, the teapot housekeeper, is charming. Her voice is easy going when added to chorus numbers, and beautifully soothing when crooning the musical's title number.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast still continues to enchant audiences. If it is true that this tale is as old as time, it stands up for a reason. To say this musical is a cartoon is an understatement; it is exactly like watching live animation. The music is delightful with a beautiful score written by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Six numbers were included from the original animated film, and an equal amount written exclusively for the stage production. Another song that was originally cut from the film was added to the musical.

Beauty and the Beast, the musical is based on the full-length animated feature film - both created by Disney studios. The film was released in 1991 and was the first Disney film to use Computer Generated Imaging and was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning three, including Best Original Score and Best Song. It was during the final process of the film that lyricist Howard Ashman succumbed to his battle with HIV and the original feature animation is dedicated to his memory.

The musical opened on Broadway on March 9, 1994, becoming the first Broadway stage musical Disney presented. It would remain on the Great White Way for over 13 years playing more than 5,461 performances. It was nominated for nine Tony Awards including Best Musical and Best Original Score. Despite only winning one Tony Award for Best Costume Design, the musical has become a standard, earning its place as the Eighth Longest Running Broadway Show in History.

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