Little girls in party dresses, patent shoes, and some with a tiara or rose filed into the Queen Elizabeth Theatre last night for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Audience members young and old were atwitter, having read the book or watched the cartoon movie growing up. I had actually just watched the Disney movie on a recent flight so several lines and queues were fresh in my mind.
After the prologue with the Beast and the enchantress the ensemble’s first musical number with the townspeople seemed like it could have used a bit more hustle and bustle — and a few more props. Quickly thereafter, the vocal performances of Belle (Emily Behny), Gaston (Logan Denninghoff), and the ensemble, which sounded impeccable, were enough to fill the stage.
Gaston, Lefou, the Silly Girls and Tavern Patrons soon wowed the crowd with a lively rendition of Gaston, working their hearts out impressively clinking cups in unison.
In the castle, the audience loved the personality and quirks of Madame de la Grande Bouche (Jen Bechter) and I’m fairly certain that many swooned at Lumiere’s performance (Michael Haller). I actually overheard: “I’m totally crushing on Lumiere. I think the woman behind me is too.”
I found some of the costumes to be spot-on, successfully transferring a cartoon inspiration to stage, while others made it a bit difficult to figure out what object the character was supposed to be transforming into (unless you’ve seen the movie).
When it was time for Be Our Guest the audience was blown away, and I literally jumped in my seat. It had style, sparkle, and a great big bang. The cast was amazingly energetic and this was definitely the showstopping number.
The crowd began to root for the characters whose plight to become human again seemed more engaging than in the film. Numbers like Something There, If I Can’t Love Her, and A Change in Me, garnered sniffles from the seats and I heard my mother reach for tissues to wipe away tears. The emotional element was definitely there, helped along by the powerful vocals of Beast (Dane Agostinis).
Children will enjoy the colourful performances of Lefou (Andrew Kreup), the humour, and the imagination that made everyone cheer in support of a characters like Cogsworth (James May) and Mrs. Potts (Julia Louise Hosack). I’m sure the little girls in their princess dresses left filled with wonder and excitement after the bright and colourful production.