BWW Reviews: BEAUTY & THE BEAST in Fresno
It's a tale as old as time that fits Disney's magical ability to make a classic story fresh and new every time you see it. Beauty and the Beast concluded its run with Broadway Fresno Wednesday evening, and if you missed it there, you'll want to catch it at one of its next stops (the closest being Thousand Oaks, CA now through December 7).
The newer production of the musical, which I have seen twice before in addition to the Broadway production, moves at a quick pace with added slapstick humor and a gorgeous aesthetic. Despite the few down sides to a trimmed script, the changed direction allows the cast space to make characters their own. I counted at least ten original stagings in the first act alone that were not present when the musical came though Modesto and Sacramento in previous years.
Jillian Butterfield and Ryan Everett Wood had fantastic voices as Belle and the Beast. A special shout out goes to Cameron Bond as Gaston. The actor attended my alma mater's friendly rival school. But Patrick Pevehouse stole the show with his romantic, spontaneous candelabra Lumiere. Melissa Jones also deserves a mention for the liveliest Babette I have ever seen.
Can't get out of town for this incredible cast? Broadway in Fresno still has a great season ahead that includes the Tony Award winning hit The Book of Mormon in July. The new production of Camelot, which comes to the Saroyan in January, has put out some amazing photo previews, and the live musical Mamma Mia!, which arrives in April, far exceeds the knock-off film. Guys and Dolls also plays in March. And the Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular just opened at the Selland Arena. Visit www.magicspace.net/fresno/ for tickets and information.