Monday, February 21, 2011

Music: Beauty and the Beast on Tour


For most folks, flying to Broadway and getting tickets to a popular musical is about as practical as flying to the moon. Fortunately, sometimes Broadway comes to you, as it did for me in the NETworks presentation of "Beauty and the Beast," directed by Rob Roth, staged by the design team who worked on the original Broadway run, and starring Liz Shivener as Belle and Justin Glaser as Beast.

I saw the show at the Phillips Center. The crowd that night was obviously packed with children, but there were also a fair number of UF students who had grown up on the popular 1991 Disney film. Though some scenes and songs were reworked, all the famous songs from the Disney movie were present.

The production was campier than the original Broadway run (Gaston literally stopped mid-song and delivered a Gator chomp, which received cheers from the crowd but felt a little cheesy to me). The second Act also felt a little light; they excised the battle between the enchanted objects and the townspeople, one of my favorite parts of the movie.

Still, it was a fun show, and Shivener makes for a charming Belle. The highlight of the evening came early, in the opening number "Belle." Though the visuals and sets were downgraded compared to the full-blown Broadway production (everything has to be portable, after all), the frantic motion of the folding village scenery actually helped to add a frenzied feel to the song:

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