BWW Reviews: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - An Enchanting Love Story For All Ages

BWW Reviews: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST - An Enchanting Love Story For All Ages
BWW Reviews: "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" - an enchanting love story for all ages
Written by Linda Woolverton
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman
Additional Music and Lyrics by Alan Menken and Tim Rice
Direction by Rob Roth
Choreography by Matt West
Musical Direction by Kevin Finn
May 5, 2015 at 7:30 P.M.
"BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" is a musical treat for the entire family!
The theatre was buzzing with excitement, with patrons of ALL ages, for the return engagement of Disney's "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST". There were several little girls dressed in replica's of Belle's ball gown costume. Their enthusiasm in anticipation of the opening night curtain going up, was contagious. The programming of this production was a great addition to the 2014-2015 Best of Broadway series at the Straz Center's Carol Morsani Hall.
The orchestra began to play as the lights illuminated the immortal red rose. The scrim went up and we were immediately transported into the colorful storybook setting and the beautiful voices of the ensemble.
The stage version of "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" is based on the 1991 Academy Award -winning animated feature film. The original fairytale was published in France in the mid 18th century. "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" opened on Broadway in 1994 at the Palace Theatre and ran for 13 years becoming the 7th longest running musical in Broadway history.
The classic story revolves around Belle, a young girl from a small town and the Beast, who is really a Prince placed under a curse. Time is running out. What will end this curse? You will have to find out yourself!
Kudos to the cast full of good singers and actors. Pretty and petite Jillian Butterfield, was perfectly cast as Belle. Her beautiful, strong, and clear soprano voice, in addition to her fine acting made her outstanding in her portrayal. Ryan Everett Wood gave a sympathetic portrayal as the Beast. His rich baritone voice added a great deal to his performance, especially in his heartfelt rendition of "If I Can't Love Her."
As the comedic villain Gaston, handsome and athletic, Cameron Bond commanded the stage, adding the right touch of over the top comedy to his exuberant portrayal. His superb baritone voice and precision dancing with the ensemble in "Gaston", was the highlight of this production.
Patrick Pevehouse as Lumiere, literally "lit up the stage", with his exceptional performance and was clearly an audience favorite. Melissa Jones made a vivacious Babette and Kelly Teal Goyette as Mademe de la Grande Bouche (think of Mimi on The Drew Carey show) was hilarious, plus having a trained, operatic voice. Thomas Mothershed was simply charming as Belle's father, Maurice.
The direction by Rob Roth lacked sophistication with some cheap laughs, too much slapstick and too many prat - falls. Choreography by Matt West was for the most part tiresome, except in the lively, precision moves in "Gaston". The orchestra lead by Musical Director, Kevin Finn, was excellent. Scenic design, by Stanley A. Meyer, was as colorful as a storybook and although the minimalistic, set pieces moved easily, they were sparse and a bit wobbly at times. The lighting design by Natasha Katz was effective with the use of projections and lazars. Costumes by Ann Hould-Ward were period, although disappointing, especially for the enchanted objects and in the "Be Our Guest" production number.

If you saw "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" on Broadway or in the Broadway National Tour, do not expect the grandeur and spectacle of lavish sets and costumes in this production. This production has been re-designed and it is just not there. What you do get is an energetic cast of talented actors with really good voices!

If you want to see a memorable fairytale "come to life" on stage, in a charming production for the entire family, go see "BEAUTY and the BEAST".

Run-time: 2 hours 30 minutes, including one 20 minute intermission
"BEAUTY and the BEAST" will play Carol Morsani Hall, May 5th- 10th, 2015 at at the Straz Center, 1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place • Tampa, Florida 33602 Tickets: $35.00 - $130.00 and may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, or in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online http://www.strazcenter.org


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