Last night Bass Hall welcomed a shorter audience than normal and whose bedtimes were adjusted to accommodate their special night on the town. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast rolled into Cowtown for the opening night of its five-night run. The crowd was certainly a mix of its seasoned members who came to enjoy the off-broadway “smash” hit musical as well as the parents attempting to bring animation to life with one of Disney’s beloved princess stories with their children. Like the story book version, the evening had some memorable high points that made the not-so-memorable parts of the story move along quickly as the audience anxiously awaited the next favorite part like the huge number “Be Our a Guest.” And also like the book and the movie, the show concluded with a happy ending as well as happy evening.
The show’s characters were pretty true to the Disney version with beautiful and intelligent Belle, egotistical and conceited Gaston and the hot-tempered, yet loving Beast. By far Gaston and his testosterone-intensive persona was almost intolerable as it seemed three numbers were devoted to explaining his nature rather than advancing the plot line. However, since he was one of the most notable characters of the show, its understandable why so much time was given to him including the stein-stomping number that provides a little variety to the musical. The Beast seemed at first to be a little dull and lacking, but about 30 minutes into the performance, the actor really showed a humorous side that the story had never showed. This added level to the character also made for a nice addition to the story.
Unlike the animated version, the inhabitants of the Beast’s castle play the same parts of a clock, candlestick, tea pot and more, but were distinctly more personalized as humans in their roles. With constant movement and not too many musical interludes, the show utilized a good mix of features to ensure its younger audience members stayed involved with the story. For the 18+ year-olds, small hints of off-humor and a little risqué innuendo kept their attention as well. The candelabra, Luminere, and the wardrobe, Madame de la Grande Bouche, stood out with their noteworthy performances.
However, the best part of the show was definitely the over-the-top number of “Be Our Guest.” Over-the-top is exactly what was needed and it delivered with lots of song, dance, strobe lights and even more dazzle when purple streamers shot into the audience when the champagne is uncorked. For my two-year-old, this was the best part of the “princess” [Beauty and the Beast]. And in my expert opinion, I agree with him. Beauty and the Beast was a fun time had by all and was a great way to bring a little culture and arts to the stage instead of the television. Besides, aren’t you tired of watching Dora the Explorer?
Good to know: The introduction and early parts of the dark forest and the Beast’s castle may be a little spooky for some children. I definitely got big eyes and an intense hand-holding during these parts, so make sure your little one is up to being spooked.