BWW Reviews: Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Enchants the Saenger Theatre
The latest show to sweep New Orleans' Saenger Theatre off its feet was the enchanted Disney fairy tale BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. This classic tale that brings many of us back to our childhoods was more magical than I could have imagined. From the set to the music to my favorite characters and everything in between, this show had me smiling from ear to ear and giggling like a 7-year-old the whole night.
Before I pass my opinion on what I thought of the show (spoiler alert: it was fantastic), I have to address a theatre etiquette faux pas that grates my nerves. Being late. I bring this up because I was late arriving to the theatre for this show, and I want to apologize to the cast and audience and anyone else I disturbed upon my arrival. Although occasionally unavoidable because of circumstances out of one's control (like the immense amount of fog and dead-stop traffic I encountered on my way), arriving late to the theatre just isn't acceptable. In fact, I'm going to go so far as to say it's rude. Plus, when you're late, most theatres won't allow you to go to your seat until the end of the opening number. Bummer. Fortunately, the rest of the performance almost made me forget that I missed the beginning... almost.
I don't know how many of you have had the privilege of attending a Disney live musical, but they are unlike any other shows in existence. They bring to life characters that you grew up with, they sing songs that your mother used to sing to you, and they have more magic than David Copperfield could ever conjure. It's spectacular.
Among the elements that make Disney musicals so awesome, especially BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, are the costumes. In the scene where Maurice is lost in the woods and the wolves are attacking, we see the use of these really cool puppets. Actors control them, but all you see as a viewer are these huge animals that seem to be moving all on their own. During "Be Our Guest," the plates, forks, knives, spoons, and napkins look like they jumped right out of the movie onto the stage. I'm talking life size dancing kitchenware here, people. And, how can I forget Belle's iconic yellow ball gown? That dress almost brings tears to your eyes! You could hear everyone in the audience gasp as she was revealed in that dress. Not to mention all of the household fixtures: Cogsworth and Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Babette, and all the rest!
Speaking of Cogsworth and Lumiere, they absolutely stole the show. They were hands down my favorite characters. Cogsworth is the stereotypical nerdy, stuck-up, tightwad. And, Lumiere is a bit of a French playboy who is always teasing with Babette. The two actors had such great chemistry, and I felt myself belly-laughing every time they came into the scene. At one point I believe I noticed Lumiere pulling out Beyonce's "Single Ladies" dance. Such funny, quirky details they added to these characters!
The musical number that impressed me the most (aside from "Be Our Guest" because... please, do I even need to say it?) was "Gaston." Gaston is one of my favorite Disney villains because he's terribly mean, but he's also dumb as rocks, which makes for a hilarious combination. During "Gaston," the cast sings about how great and wonderful this horrible, narcissistic, bear of a man is. But that's not what made this scene great. It was the cups. Yes, the cups. The scene takes place in a pub, and cast members have these metal beer mugs that they, for lack of a better term, "clank" together, which added some zest to an already fun number. I don't know how else to describe it, but you can watch the scene by clicking here.
The message that I took from the show is one that I don't think I've ever caught on to before. Of course there's true love, self-sacrifice, and all that jazz. But, the one that really struck me was this - the dreams that you have can change, and that's ok. We all have dreams of what we will become when we are young, and that's good. It drives us forward. It gives us something to work towards. But, as we grow up, those dreams change, and it's hard to let go of them. Sometimes letting go of the old dreams and embracing the new ones is exactly what we need.
Thank you NETworks and Disney for a truly wonderful evening! I hope to see this show again some day!