BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Dazzles At Broadway San Jose Now Through March 11
“There may be something there that wasn’t there before” at Broadway San Jose March 6th – 11th. For a short, limited engagement Beauty and the Beast will be dazzling the San Jose stage. Winner of the 1994 Tony for best costume design and nominated for eight others, Beauty and the Beast is based on the 1991 animated film from Walt Disney Pictures. Beauty and the Beast has captured the hearts and minds of millions of people around the globe and Broadway San Jose has brought this treasure to the stage.
Beauty and the Beast is the story of a cruel and selfish prince who is transformed into a hideous beast by a magical enchantress who curses him because there is no love in his heart. In order to break the spell he must learn to love and be loved by another in return or he and his servants will remain cursed forever. But who could ever learn to love a beast?
Hodges and Hodges (Nick and Linda) experienced the magic on opening night and are here to report on the beauty and the beastly details.
As someone who has reviewed Beauty and the Beast before Linda, what were you expecting out of this performance?
I try to never go into a show with any preconceptions. I was, however, looking forward to that special kind of magic that comes from a Disney musical. What about you, Nick?
It definitely had a magical quality. Walking into the theatre, the proscenium scrim (set design by Stanley A. Meyer), with its oversized tangle of vines and swirls, drew the audience right into the enchanted world created by Meyer.
The iconic score (musical direction by Carolyn Violi), was moving and beautifully done. It enhanced the opening scene that highlighted the puppet beggar woman and enchantress. Designed by Basil Twist the puppets each took their magical turn setting the stage for what was to come.
And don’t forget the puppet wolves. They were used to great effect in the chase scene with Maurice as well as the fight scene with the Beast. I did think that the fight choreography by Jeff Brooks was a little weak and didn’t have that “umph” that I was looking for.
I thought it was very effective. The last battle between the Beast and Gaston was exhilarating to say the least. Didn’t you like that segment?
Absolutely. I was on The Edge of my seat the whole time for that part. Their timing was impeccable.
Speaking of timing, the dancing in this show (Choreography by Matt West) was breathtaking.
Oh my god. I couldn’t help but think, “This is as good as a Broadway production” It was that good! The ensemble was amazing. Their timing, their characters and interactions did justice to this show. It was just like watching a live version of the movie. The dancers and extras were superb and were a true joy to watch.
The numbers that stood out for me were the cup clinking tavern number “Gaston,” with Logan Denninghoff as Gaston and his knucklehead sidekick Lafou played expertly by Andrew Kruep. Both Denninghoff and Lafou worked seamlessly together.
I know. I could not stop smiling during those numbers! I felt as happy as if I were in Disneyland itself. I especially felt like a kid again during the exuberantly performed showstopper “Be Our Guest” led by Lumiere, played by Michael Haller, as the master of ceremonies.
I don’t think they could have picked a better person for the part. But we mustn’t forget his enchanted friends Cogsworth (James May), Mrs. Potts (Julia Louise Hosack), and Madame de la Grande Bouche (Jen Bechter). They were wonderful. What a great ensemble cast. I loved Hosack’s warm and wistful tones on the title song “Beauty and the Beast” – simply sublime - while May was ideal as the clock.
Madame de la Grande Bouche as the wardrobe was a comedic masterpiece that I wasn’t expecting.
Her costume, designed by Ann Hould-Ward, who won the Tony for this show, was large and grand, but I thought that the Mrs. Potts costume could have been better.
Yeah. During the touching scene where the Beast has let Belle return to her father, the pink colors in Mrs. Potts’ costume glowed in the dark like at a black light rave party. Kinda mood killing.
Well, the Beast and Belle costumes were beautiful and you can’t have the costumes without Dane Agostinis as the Beast and Emily Behny as Belle. Agontinis excelled as the hot-tempered and touchy beast who is surprised and displeased to find first an old man (the addled inventor Maurice played by Christopher Spencer) and then his beautiful daughter, Belle (Emily Behny) inside his enchanted castle.
Behny had a beautiful voice that is worthy of a Disney princess. She really made Belle her own by adding an air of wit and sass to the character.
Behny was the perfect Belle in my estimation. All the little girls in the audience were in awe. What a wonderful gift this character is to young girls everywhere!
Dane Agostinis as the Beast was a perfect match for Behny’s Belle.
He was very endearing as he dares to hope that someone might yet love him and lift the curse. His comedic lines are delivered with awkward charm as the beast slowly seeks to find his way back to his humanity. Agontinis’ rich baritone (especially in “If I Can’t Love Her”) is nuanced, poignant and heart wrenching.
The whole show was amazing. Director Rob Roth was nominated for a Tony for his direction of the original Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast and I can see why.
Go see Beauty and the Beast as it enchants and delights and is musical magic at its best. Children will be charmed and transfixed while adults will be moved by the vulnerable beast who finds love by putting Belle’s needs before his own, becoming human in the process. Everyone will laugh and have a wonderful time!
BONUS Cast Party Exclusive with Emily Behny
The quick 411: Emily Behny plays Belle in Beauty and the Beast. She is graceful, charming and talented. Even though she had an agent Emily answered an open call advertised in New York’s Backstage.com, showing up along with 1,000 other potential Belles. The former Indianan turned New Yorker got three callbacks and kept her fingers crossed. After the final callback, she got married and took a week-long honeymoon. She returned home to an e-mail telling her she got the part.
“It’s amazing – I grew up loving Belle….The show is so good and so impactful. It’s a dream come true.” It’s a dream but Emily is pragmatic as well. When we asked her what was next for her she said, “I’ll keep auditioning. I’m prepared to wait tables or do whatever it takes until I get another role,” she said emphatically. We don’t think she’ll have to wait too long. But for now she’s Belle in Broadway San Jose’s Beauty and the Beast. Drop by and say “hi.”
Beauty and the Beast: Musical comedy
Now through March 11
Broadway San Jose
By Linda Woolverton, adapted from her screenplay.
Music by Alan Menken. Lyrics by Howard Ashman
and Tim Rice. Directed by Rob Roth.
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus