- OnStage Massachusetts Columnist
Let me start by saying this isn’t a review of the film. This is a “please Disney gods, revive the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast” piece. After finally viewing the new Beauty and the Beast in theaters, I’m even more convinced that the Broadway production is one of the best shows ever and needs to be revived pronto. Beauty and the Beast is one of the all-time great musicals. Here’s why and here’s what should be updated for any revival.
The Broadway soundtrack kept all songs from the animated film and added a handful of character driven songs. We learn more about Belle, Gaston, the Beast and the servants through their songs: Home and Change in Me, Me, If I Can’t Love Her and Human Again respectively. Of all those I think Human Again is the weakest and could stand to be deleted. Or replaced with “Days in the Sun” from the new movie.
The ensemble numbers: Belle, Gaston, Be Our Guest and The Mob Song are epic, beautifully done songs that take advantage of, and showcase your ensemble. Keep them. Make them as big as possible because they add such pizzazz to the production.
Technically it is daunting but the effects make it a spectacular show. You have an incredible amount of special effects to deal with from the Enchantress’ fireball to the make-up and prosthetics for the Beast. I’m 35 and not ashamed to admit I still have no idea how Disney created that rose with petals falling on command- and I’ve seen it up close. These effects, in my opinion, keep even the most cynical viewer engaged and entertained. When it’s done right, everything in this show is simply magical.
There’s some great takeaways from this current film. I appreciate how the current movie addressed some of the plot holes prevalent in the animated film. The Prince is no longer 11 when he’s cursed, (because hello, what 11-year old child isn’t a brat at one point or another?), we understand now why the servants suffer the same fate as the Prince and we understand how the townsfolk could forget about the Prince, their friends and family although we learn one at least would rather his wife continue to forget him. Keep these new elements.
It’s about time Belle had more of a backstory. Her inventing a washing machine was genius; I loved how she became the inventor and her father the painter. I thought the whole Lefou is gay piece was a “blink and you miss it moment”- he danced with a guy for a hot second and had some longing, loving looks at Gaston. Kudos to Disney for taking that step (albeit a tiny, baby step) but if/when they revive the show how about we have him share a kiss with someone? Anyway.
With Disney announcing casting for their new musical Frozen, the likelihood of a Beauty and the Beast revival is slim I know. However, it is a perfect blend of story, characters, music and dance. It’s a proven commodity having run successfully on Broadway for thirteen years and numerous tours across the country since. Other shows have been revived far more often; it’s time for Beauty and the Beast to grace the Great White Way again.