For a tale that’s old as time, Beauty and the Beast never feels timeworn. As one of the classic stories from the Disney vault, this charming storyline proves once and again that it’s a favorite for a reason.
The stage show follows the Disney film almost word-for-word, with a few necessary musical additions by Alan Menken and Tim Rice.
Belle, played by the stunningly talented Hilary Maiberger, truly captures the audience from her first note — staying very close (even in voice) to the animated original.
Maiberger’s Belle is matched by Darick Pead’s performance as the Beast — a young prince under a magic spell forced to find love in order to break the curse. Pead’s half-human, half-monster persona was a bit more sassy and sarcastic than his cartoon predecessor. At times, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a Geico caveman rather than a commanding, tortured prince.
Still, the pair captured the story of budding, unexpected love without fail — leaving the comedy to fellow cohorts.
Most of the physical comedy was provided by Lefou, played by Jimmy Larkin. Larkin did his best to keep the kiddos laughing through his constant somersaults and Three Stooges-like humor. Uber-French Luminere, played by Hassan Nazari-Robati, provided a good portion of the adult humor, complete with raised eyebrows and perfectly timed lit candlesticks.
The Silly Girls (aka: Gaston’s wenches) certainly played a bigger role in the stage adaptation but the squealing and nasally whining came off more Kardashian than comedy.
The costumes were practically like a second cast, though certain outfits could have gone further. The transformations of Luminere and Cogsworth were obvious and inventive but I must admit, I had trouble deciphering other characters immediately — Babette had a few feathers here and there but was more or less unchanged during the real-life transformation. And I thought Madame de la Grande Bouche’s costume, though one of the better characters, was more headboard than dresser.
Still, watching the cast come together for the undoubtedly best performance of the night, “Be Our Guest,” was most enjoyable, thanks to its costuming and over-the-top set designs.
The show is definitely one of the most family-friendly on Broadway — directing jokes towards the youngsters and attempting to keep the adults entertained in between the kid humor. Still, the nostalgia throughout the show can’t help but bring you back to your childhood and evoke memories of a simpler time.
Beauty and the Beast’s story may be one that’s tried and true, but with such a classic tale, there’s no fixing what’s not broken.
Beauty and the Beast runs through Oct. 21 at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.
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