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BWW Review: Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST National Tour - A Tale That Stands the Test of Time

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Brooke Quintana and Company

No doubt one of the greatest classic Disney films of all time, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has launched a new NETworks tour, which reunites original Broadway director, Rob Roth, choreographer, Matt West, along with the original design team, including Ann Hould-Ward (costume designer), Natasha Katz (Lighting Designer), Stanley A. Meyer (Scenic Designer), John Petrafesa Jr. (Sound Designer) and Music Supervision by Michael Kosarin.

An international sensation playing to over 35 million people in 13 countries, Disney magic dazzled on opening night in Columbus, Ohio as the NETworks tour of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST opened (appropriately) at the Palace Theatre. With the very first mesmeric note in Alan Menken's Academy Award-Winning score, you will be immediately entranced and drawn in to the hauntingly beautiful music and breathtaking sets.

The story follows Belle, a smart, adventurous young woman in a small provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a selfish young prince put under a spell and transformed into a hideous beast by an enchantress. The curse is also placed upon the entire castle whose inhabitants are also transformed into everyday household objects. Belle saves her wandering father's life at the hands of the Beast and pledges to be imprisoned for life in exchange for her father's freedom. To break the spell, the Beast must learn to love and be loved before the last rose petal falls.

Leading the cast are Brooke Quintana as Belle and Sam Hartley as the Beast. Together, both display honest, true chemistry as we watch their beautiful and tender love story blossom like the petals of the enchanted rose. Hartley brought a more childish vibe to the role, often portraying a spoiled child throwing temper tantrums rather than a frightful brute. However, the true force came within his voice when he showcased an impressive and passionate "If I Can't Love Her."

Brooke Quintana and Sam Hartley

Brooke Quintana portrayed more of a sassy and brash Belle with a tomboyish undertone, rather than the kind, smart, open-minded Belle that we've seen on film. Although she had a beautiful, full voice in "Home", I felt she fell a little flat, however, in her climatic song, "A Change In Me."

Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek played the arrogant, strapping Gaston with slapstick humor but had booming vocals to bolster his manliness. Matt Dasilva was the perfect sidekick as LeFou in both appearance and voice. Together, they had impeccable comedic timing and kept the audience constantly entertained. At times, however, this came off a bit too cartoonish and took away from the characters' ability to be relatable.

Although lacking somewhat on his French accent, Ryan N. Phillips gave a terrific interpretation of Lumiere and was a true crowd-pleaser, balancing compassion with whimsical delight. Stephanie Harter Gilmore (playing Madame de la Grande Bouche) was outstanding in her role, offering an operatic flair to her character. See a recent interview of her here.

The rest of the cast was marvelous and thoroughly engaging. Matt West's energetic choreography kept the show moving at a swift pace, especially during the irresistible showstopper, "Be Our Guest," which was a stunning and very entertaining highlight of the show. The fine orchestra led by Director Kevin Francis Finn allowed the lushness of the music to mesmerize the audience while the cast sang in glorious harmony.

A very family-friendly production, NETworks's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST truly stands the test of time by engaging young and old with the perfect blend of comedy, romance, and a timeless message of inner beauty.

Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST runs at the Palace Theatre, 55 E. State Street, thru March 20th. Tickets are available at the CAPA Ticket Center, located at 39 E. State St., as well as at all Ticketmaster outlets. They can also be purchased via phone by calling (800) 745-3000 or on Ticketmaster's website.

For more information on the touring production, visit: http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy


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