For those of you who are only familiar with the movie, the stage show stays fairly close to the plot and includes all of the beloved songs like "Be Our Guest," "Gaston," and the title song, plus a half dozen or so new songs that flesh out the characters of the Beast, Belle, and her father. After complaining about her provincial life, Belle finds adventure by rescuing her beloved father from an enchanted castle and taking his place as the Beast's captive. The only way the Beast and his animate object servants can return to their human selves is if he learns to love and be loved in return. But who could ever learn to love a Beast? Against all odds (and because this is Disney), Belle and the Beast eventually fall sweetly in love, he lets her go, and she comes back to save him from the angry townspeople. The curse is broken and they all live happily ever after thanks to the transformative power of love.
|the Beast and Belle bond over a book (Robert O. Berdahl|
and Ruthanne Heyward, photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp)
|the silly girls (Jessica Fredrickson, Larissa|
Gritti, Timmy Hays) fawn over Gaston
(Aleks Knezevich, photo by Heidi Bohenkamp)
Nayna Ramey's sparse and effective set design easily and quickly transforms from the dark and creepy forest to the enchanted castle to a tavern in the village. Hanging silks represent columns and provide a place for the Beast to hide behind, as well as being used in the choreography. Speaking of, Tamara Kangas Erickson has choreographed some exciting ensemble dance numbers ("Be Our Guest") and thrilling fight scenes. Rich Hamson's delicious costumes bring this fairy tale to full and colorful life, with a wide range from the villagers to animated household objects to luscious gowns for Belle. Add in the evocative lighting (designed by Sue Ellen Berger) and the overall effect is really quite stunning. Last but not least, this familiar and beloved score (the first music I ever owned) sounds fantastic as performed by the orchestra (hidden behind a screen at the back of the stage) under Music Director Andrew Cooke and Conductor Richard Long.
|"Be Our Guest!" (photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp)|