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Review: Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Magnolia Musical Theatre

Magnolia Musical Theatre Dazzles With Extraordinary Production

By: Aug. 07, 2023
Review: Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Magnolia Musical Theatre  Image
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Review: Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Magnolia Musical Theatre  Image

There are few, very few, productions in the Austin area that entirely surprise me. After nearly 30 years in area theatre, I’m fairly experienced in knowing what to expect from each and every show I attend. That said, Magnolia Musical Theatre’s DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is an extraordinary experience, even for this jaded theatre fan. I had a wonderful evening viewing what is possibly the best local production of a musical that I’ve ever seen. 

We all know the fairytale about a cursed prince and the beautiful girl who grows to love him despite his ghastly appearance. First published by French novelist, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1756, La Belle et la Bête, has been a popular story of redemption ever since. Disney’s animated musical version exploded onto the scene in 1991, cementing the Disney Renaissance and bringing the company back to the popularity it enjoyed in the 1950s and 60s. The stage musical with music by Alan Menkin,  book by Linda Woolverton, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice was an immediate smash on Broadway when it premiered in 1994 and has been dazzling live audiences ever since. 

I’ve seen several productions of this wonderful musical with various production values, but I must say that the Magnolia Musical Productions is the most stunning version I’ve ever seen. It is in fact the best local musical I’ve ever seen. The talent of every artist, their creativity and hard work creates pure, joyful magic. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST sets a new high-mark for all musical theatre in the Austin area to aspire to. Magnolia has made a remarkable impression with their first production by gathering the best and brightest of professional talent. Starting with Desiderio Roybal’s enchanting set design we are lured into an enchanted world with seamlessly moving sets and surprises around every corner. The lighting design by Bill Rios is wonderfully nuanced, enhancing every scene in an outdoor venue, no easy task. Tara Cooper’s hair and makeup designs are perfection, every character is detailed and beautifully done. My highest praise is reserved for costume designer, Jennifer Rose Davis and associate costume designer, Jana Steen. While the production would have been lovely if the actors were dressed in modern casual wear, it’s Davis’ costumes that set this show apart from all the rest. Audible gasps from the audience could be heard with each new costume entrance and her attention to detail is unsurpassed. Legendary Austin director Rick Roemer puts it all together in a production that flows beautifully from one scene to the next riveting an audience full of eager viewers of every age. He’s created the perfect adventure that will make one forget about the Texas heat and simply enjoy a stunning evening full of laughter and a few tears. 

Review: Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Magnolia Musical Theatre  ImageThe cast is outright fabulous, every role is perfectly cast and they give their all on stage. Favorites include Robert Quintanilla as Beast, Mary Shae Hooper as Belle, Sebastian Vitale as Gaston, Matt Connely as LeFou, Trey Shonkwiler as Cogsworth, Emily Grace Wolfman as Chip, Morgan Whitley as Lumiere, Sarah Reynolds as Babette, Laura Powell as Mrs. Potts and the ever fabulous Michelle Cheney as Madam Bouche. They honestly give performances worthy of more praise than I have the time to write here. Huge kudos to the Ensemble who move as one and fill every scene they’re in with joy. Special shout out to Nick Xitco as Prince Adam and the Ensemble, a Georgetown Palace regular, his presence is always incredible and a treat to watch. The live orchestra is incredible and they make the music so rich in a show usually provided with canned music. Every element of Magnolia Musical Theatre’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has been brilliantly planned and executed to entertain. 

Personally I was concerned about attending an outdoor show in triple digit heat, but the magnificent Hill Country Galleria setting in Bee Cave is comfortable and much cooler than I imagined. After sundown, there is an amazing cool breeze that takes the temperature down to a very comfortable level. When you go, because you must see this show, go early, bring a blanket or pillow to sit on and be prepared to watch the magic unfold on stage. The show is unbelievably free to attend, so if you can spare a few dollars, donations are highly appreciated. 


Music by Alan Menkin, Book by Linda Woolverton, Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice

Directed by Rick Roemer

Magnolia Musical and The City of Bee Cave

At the Hill Country Galleria

12700 Hill Country Blvd, Bee Cave, TX

Running Time: Approximately 2.5 hours with one 15 minute intermission. 

Tickets: FREE, for more details

Photo Credit: Emily Cannata



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