Lisa Bailey / OnStage Critic Playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast has always been a dream of mine. She’s a smart woman who doesn’t back down and she does it all with such grace. I remember going to see the movie when I was a youngster and have been in love with it ever since. I never saw the musical on Broadway but did see the national tour about 10 years ago. When it was announced that the national tour was making its way to Toledo this year, I knew I had to check it out again.
The musical follows the same premise as the Disney movie. A young prince is turned into a beast because he shows no love in his heart. If he cannot love someone and receive their love in return by the time the last petal on a rose falls, he will remain the beast forever. Belle is a young woman living a small town who dreams of adventure. She ends up as a prisoner in the Beast’s castle and the story goes on from there
I had such high hopes for this production because I do love it so. However, I was disappointed and that started from the beginning when the old beggar woman turns into the enchantress. She looked like one of those inflatable flailing tube men. The sets were pretty lackluster – mainly the library scene where it was just a small backdrop with painted books. The battle scene was nonexistent but that’s because it’s a small cast and there weren’t enough cast members to portray both the townspeople and the castle objects. Some songs were cut but I wasn’t concerned about that. It wasn’t any of the songs from the movie so I don’t think the average Joe would notice the cuts. I didn’t want to nitpick at things because this is one of my favorite musicals but I definitely saw where they cut some corners.
I was impressed with the cast. Jillian Butterfield (Belle) lead the cast with grace, passion and a lovely voice. Patrick Pevehouse (Lumiere) had great comedic timing and led the show stopper “Be Our Guest” with great flair. Cameron Bond (Gaston) was my favorite actor. His arrogance was perfect and had great chemistry with Jake Bridges (Lefou). Ryan Everett Wood (Beast) had great vocals for the Beast’s solo, “If I Can’t Love Her”. My one issue with his portrayal as Beast was that he was too goofy. I didn’t like his transition throughout the show.
Overall, did I like this production? I’d lean more towards yes with that slight disappointment. The talent was there and the story is still one of my favorites. I just have to remind myself that it was scaled down. Would I recommend this show? Yes, because it’s still a great story full of great music. The cast does a wonderful job with what they are given. What more can you ask for? I’m just being picky because I’ve seen the musical before and know how great it can be.
Check out http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com for tour dates and try the grey stuff, it’s delicious!