“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST,” through March 25, sold out, two hours, 30 minutes (one intermission)
Roses, tiaras and princess dresses filled Capitol Theatre — fitting for “Beauty and the Beast,” which opened its national tour on Tuesday night in Salt Lake City.
The Disney classic is the eighth longest-running musical on Broadway, playing from 1994–2007. It garnered nine Tony Awards nominations, winning for Best Costume Design. Awards aside, the show quickly became a crowd favorite and has spawned numerous international productions and tours and is now a favorite among community theaters and high schools.
The popularity of the show was evident by the sold-out house, and audience members settled in to reacquaint themselves with the beloved characters.
For the most part, the production delivered as promised, and the enthusiastic crowd, which gave a nice standing ovation at the end of the night, seemed quite appreciative. Including my own 4-year-old who sat riveted, hanging on every word.
A quick pause to thank Broadway Across America for including family-friendly fare in its season. What a treat as a theater-lover to share this wonderful art form with my little one, watch her react and engage, learn when to clap, learn how to behave and, during intermission, ask me if “we can go back in and finish the show.”
This NETworks production is well-cast. Belle (Emily Behny) is beautiful, with a girl-next-door appeal. Dane Agostinis plays the Beast with a bit of a comedic bent, and he handles his ballads beautifully. Logan Denninghoff plays the not-so-charming Gaston to animated perfection. The supporting cast is great as well, and the energetic ensemble steals the show with “Be Our Guest.”
On a different level, it seemed as if the stage set had been pared down quite a bit from past productions — perfectly adequate but not impressive. It was also interesting to see crew members, dressed as gargoyles, moving the set pieces around, since most productions these days have automated set pieces.
The adult side of me feels like this old favorite needs a good spring cleaning, perhaps a re-imagining by Disney of some of the special effects. Theater has come a long way since 1994 and so much more is possible. Seeing the Beast grab his wig and throw it into the darkness ruins the magical transformation moment just a bit.
But this production does what it set out to do: entertain families and especially children, and I, as a parent, thank them for that.
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