Some musicals feature such great songs and so strong a pedigree that they can only be successful. Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is as close to a “sure thing” as you’ll ever see come off of Broadway.
The touring production of the show, running at the Fox Theatre on a limited run through November 3, is based on the animated movie and packs as much, if not more of a wallop on stage as it did on screen.
This is the classic fairy tale of a spoiled prince (Darick Pead) who is placed under a spell along with his entire castle and transformed into a monstrous beast until he can learn to love and have that love reciprocated.
In a nearby village, we meet beautiful daydreamer Belle (Hilary Maiberger) who doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the townspeople. She even rejects the advances of local, conceited alpha male Gaston (a scene-stealing Tim Rogan) who plots and schemes with his toady Lafou (Jordan Aragon) to win Belle’s affections.
One day Belle’s absentminded father Maurice (Paul Crane) gets lost in the woods and stumbles upon the Beast’s castle, after which the Beast immediately throws him in the dungeon for trespassing.
Belle goes to search for her father and when she finds him at the castle, she convinces the Beast to let her be his prisoner in exchange for her father’s freedom.
The Beast agrees and Belle takes up residence in the enchanted castle which is populated by the Beast’s former servants who have been transformed into everyday items.
What the Beast lacks in hospitality is more than made up for by the staff which includes candlestick Lumiere (Hassan Nazari-Robati), clock Cogsworth (James May), and teakettle Mrs. Potts (Kristin Stewart). The rest of the story plays out in typical “happily ever after” fashion.
A musical is only as good as its songs and fortunately “Beauty and the Beast” is packed with classics. Songs like “Belle,” “Be Our Guest” and the title number “Beauty and the Beast” are etched in the consciousness of at least two generations of little girls.
But there are plenty of other great numbers that may have slipped your memory or have been added just for the stage. The most notable are “Human Again” which was written for, then cut from the original movie, and “Gaston” which winds up being the most impressive number in the whole show.
The song, which extolls all the virtues of the vacuous villain, is exceptional all on its own, but when paired with a rousing dance routine that features synchronized clinking beer mugs it makes for one of the most original and crowd-pleasing numbers you’ll ever see on stage.
Pound for pound “Beauty and the Beast” is the best Disney adaptation to the stage ever produced. And I know I say that with the giant elephant in the room that is the Broadway smash “The Lion King.” (Although to the credit of “The Lion King” no musical anywhere can top the opening “Circle of Life” number when it comes to pure spectacle.)
This show is a great way to introduce your kids to the theater as it is pretty fast-paced and there are plenty of other kids around so you won’t have to feel bad if your kid has a meltdown or talks through the entire show. That makes the show a treat for kids and parents alike.
“Beauty and the Beast” is now playing at the Fox Theatre through November 3. For tickets call (314)-534-1111 or go to metrotix.com.