There are few things sadder than re-watching a movie you loved as a child only to find it no longer entertaining. The same can be said for watching adaptations of those beloved stories.
Of course, as a child of the early 90s, I am well acquainted with the Disney animated classic “Beauty and the Beast.” In fact, it’s probably one of my favorite Disney movies of all time.
It was also the first musical I ever saw.
I don’t remember my exact age, somewhere around 5 or 6, but I do remember the ending scene where the Beast is transformed into the prince vividly. I was in awe at how they could make him float above the stage and transform from beast to human so quickly.
(The only other thing I vividly remember was going to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner beforehand, but that’s neither here nor there.)
I hadn’t seen a production of “Beauty and the Beast” since then, and I am pleased to say that re-watching the Orpheum Theatre’s adaptation Tuesday was just as fun and magical as the first time.
Now, I know what you might think – my love of the movie and nostalgia for the musical might have led to me to perhaps judge the show a little less harshly.
But I’m not like that.
When I have such a fondness for something I often judge a remake much harder. After all, they have a lot to live up to.
And live up to it they did.
The show, which follows the movie almost exactly except for a few added songs, opens with a narrator telling the story of the Beast and the spell that was cast on him and the castle.
The narrator had the rich, warm tone that could have come straight out of any classic Disney princess film. (You know the ones I’m talking about – that all open with a book and zoom in on a castle.)
The set was bold and colorful, and rounded out with several props. There were impressive technical techniques that added to the set, such as the wilting of the rose that lives in the west wing, but the basic back-drop often stayed the same enhanced only be moving pieces, such as castle stairs or Belle’s home.
Jillian Butterfield was a visually perfect Belle. She played up Belle’s sarcasm, smarts and stubbornness, but, as with many ingénue characters, was a bit soft compared to the cast of accompanying characters.
Cameron Bond was brilliant as Gaston.
He played Gaston perfectly, misogynistic, narcissistic and clueless. Gaston is easily a character that could be played over-the-top, or too macho, but Bond nailed it. He even added a signature jaunt for Gaston every time he strode across the stage.
And Tony D’Alelio played the ideal mix of sidekick-slash-fangirl in his Lefou. Half of the time D’Alelio’s Lefou is encouraging his leader by backing up his choices and doing his bidding, and the other half he is fawning over Gaston, confirming his greatness.
“Gaston” was also one of the shows best numbers. Those familiar with the film know it takes place in the town pub and the choreographer for this production played off of that by creating an entire dance scene that incorporated the clinking of beer steins. For 30 seconds to a minute, the music drops out and the rhythmic clinking is the only beat.
All of the group numbers were among the best, just based on the sheer energy each cast member brought. But they also were the most technically engaging to watch.
“Be Our Guest” was one such number.
To start, all of the actors were dressed as inanimate objects, with the exception of Belle, adding an extra level of difficulty as mobility was often limited due to the costumes. The number included a kickline, acrobatics and even the exploding champagne bottles from the movie. It was captivating, bold and fun.
And, of course, what would “Beauty and the Beast” be without the enchanted objects of the castle?
Lumiere, played by Patrick Pevehouse, and Madame de la Grande Bouche, played by Kelly Teal Goyette, were boisterous, exuberant and slightly inappropriate, adding in that perfect pop of adult color. Both had beautiful singing voices and were a joy to watch on stage.
Babette (Melissa Jones), Mrs. Potts (Emily Jewell), Chip (Ross Nemeth) and Cogsworth (Samuel Shurtleff) rounded out the servant group with a subdued humor and sweetness.
All in all, the Orpheum Theatre’s production is a delightful rendition of the beloved classic that’s fun for Disney fans of all ages.
Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is performing at the Orpheum Theatre now through Sunday, March 15. Tickets range from $29 to $134. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the Hennepin Theatre Trust online.