Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beauty and the Beast- a Review

I attended Beauty and the Beast at AMTSJ on Saturday, accompanied by Mom and Tika. I grew up a Disney-ish kid, and I love musicals, but this musical holds a slightly more special spot in my heart. The last time it toured through San Jose, Andrew and I went to see it. It was our first real date.

When they announced that it was going to be part of this season, I was pretty happy. The cast was phenomenal, but it seems that there have been some changes made in the last 6-7 years.

I didn’t think it was possible, but they Disney-fied it even more. Gaston is even more of a bully (who doesn’t go more than 3 minutes between punching the formly-sycophantic-now-stuttering Lefou), and they have changed the Beast from a gothic hero to an awkward buffoon. Less angst, more social ineptitude. My heart was very nearly broken by this change.

Despite the ill-advised changes, the actors were terrific- Brad Little plays the Beast, Edward Staudenmayer plays Gaston, and Nikki Renee Daniels interprets Belle with an incredibly powerful voice. I enjoyed the show so much that I picked up a copy of the Brad Little CD. I do love a good baritone. We also thought that Gaston was a smokin’ hot fox.

It’s hard to separate what I want theater to be- thought provoking and moving- with what it is- occasionally aimed a little lower, going for the cheap laughs. I understand that it has become a kids’ show- but it wasn’t before. (Just take a listen to the lyrics. You’ll agree.)

The original story has depth about appearances being deceiving and looking past the superficial. With this one, it felt more like the moral was, “Once you spend enough time with someone, you’ll love them.” A little more Stockholm-y, and a little less a-meeting-of-like-minds, if you will.

This is just be a criticism of the Disney-fication of the world, not the show. Take your kids, everyone will enjoy it. Ignore the curmudgeonly, pink-haired woman in the fierce shoes. She likes angst.


  1. Curmudgeonly my foot, pink-haired in the fierce shoes, okay, I'll go along with that.

    Speaking of which, my daughter looked at my shoes actually with my dress today, and proclaimed I couldn't wear those to the wedding. And why not? Child, what choices do you think I have??

    So I went back and looked again. I found one pair in navy ever anywhere online or off in my size with no heels (can't wear'em with my broken balance.) One single pair. Python print. Python print?! My black ones and patent pearl-coloreds don't sound so bad after all! And that brand comes too narrow, so they weren't really my size anyway.

    I think a beachfront reception should be in bare feet.

  2. I took Resident Teen and Little Man on Sunday.

    I agree with the Disney-fied part. I could almost tell you the next line to be spoken.
    (Resident Teen was obsessed with B&B when she was much younger)

    However, what a performance!!!
    Beast gave me chills, Belle had some pipes and Gaston....very on target.

    Both my , soon to be performers, kids had stars in their eyes and dreams of being in the biz.


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