Disney's Beauty and the Beast Broadway Musical, Hershey Theatre, Reviewby EJ on 07/26/12
Networks presentation of Disney's Beauty & the Beast, the smash hit Broadway musical is playing at Hershey Theatre in Hershey, Pennsylvania this week through July 29th. The musical, based on the Academy award-winning animated film, opened to a packed theatre on Tuesday night.
As I walked my daughter KM from the car alongside her grandmother, I remembered having seen the movie back in 1991 when it was brand new. My mom - Grandma - was there in 1991 when I threw a fit. Fans will recall the opening stained glass scenes. Apparently I panicked for that, alarmed that the entire movie might be interpreted in stained glass images. Of course, the movie transitioned into the recognizable Disney animation style and Belle's little provincial town soothed my fears.
In the parking lot before
the show, parents towing their mini princesses in yellow gowns trotted toward
the Hershey Theatre's main doors. Families and friends of all ages crowded into
the main lobby, which must have seemed like the inside of a castle to the little
ones, with its marbled walls, gold arches and floor of polished Italian lava
The actress playing Belle that night, Hilary Maiberger, seemed to have walked right out of the animated movie. Her voice was spot on with only subtle differences. Her mannerisms and facial expressions mirrored those of the cartoon Belle while also offering even more depth and interpretation that fit absolutely right for the character. Nothing she did seemed out of place.
Gaston, played by Matt Farcher, was hilarious. For me, he really stole the show with his consistently entertaining portrayal of the self-absorbed and rotten antagonist. In the film, the character looked a lot older and I actually preferred Farcher's more youthful appearance which still included the big muscles, long hair and expressive eye brows.
The Beast, portrayed by Darick Pead, was harder to connect with until half way through the show, although I'm sure that's very much intended. When the Beast sings "If I Can't Love Her" following the moment when he releases Belle from her life in the castle, he suddenly has all unexpected depth (even though I knew how the story ends, it was really neat to feel the change). Pead made the inner transformation very real and very emotional.
Unlike in the movie, the enchanted objects that inhabit the castle are still 'sort of' human in the play. Whereas Lumiere is an actual candlestick with eyes and a talking mouth in the film, he's got legs and is as tall as a person in the play, with candlestick arms and a candlestick head. The same goes for the other people objects. In this version, they're undergoing a continual transformation toward becoming the object as the time progresses. If the spell is not broken before the Beast's magic rose drops its last petal and the Beast does not learn to love and be loved in return, then these people would eventually turn into the full objects with no humanity at all.
Lumier explains early on to Cogsworth,
that an enchantress made them suffer the effects of the spell along with the
Beast, because they allowed the former Prince to behave badly. In essence, they
were enablers of his poor attitude toward others and therefore had a lesson to
learn as well.
The best dance number, in my opinion, was Gaston and company's
"Gaston" in the tavern scene of Act I. Beer mugs clinking, the opera-like tones
of Gaston's voice and the hilarious lyrics were all superb entertainment.
Beauty & the Beast stage production utilizes color (and sparkle) very
well. The sets, the backdrops, the lighting, the costumes - everything remains
consistently gorgeous and vivid. Twice, they shot off streamers over the
We all went home happy and impressed, including Grandma. We even got her to wear a yellow tiara from the gift stand!
If you're in the Hershey area this week we highly recommend spending an evening at Hershey Theatre to see Networks production of Disney's Beauty & the Beast. Tickets are available at www.hersheytheatre.com or www.ticketmaster.com and start at $25 (processing fees apply).
Four Little Monsters Blog received admission to Hershey Theatre for the purpose of this review. All opinions belong to the blogger.