When I asked Middle to “be my guest” to see Disney’s Beauty & the Beast, he shook his head and said “enough with the puns” but happily accepted the invitation, with a hopeful gleam in his eye. In addition to looking forward to a Mother-Son night (never, ever should I call it a “date,” he tells me), he was excited to see how the enchanted objects are portrayed by humans and he looked forward to how the production represents so many different scenic locations on one stage. I looked forward to seeing my favorite princess and her story, but even more, I was most excited to share the night with him.
[I received tickets to see Beauty & the Beast in exchange for sharing it with you on Julieverse.]
Overall, we really enjoyed it. We thought the scenery and set changes were so impressive. Middle was correct, there were a LOT of setting changes that were necessary, and the magic of theater made the set changes a part of the show. Everything from the march through the woods to the many rooms of the castle to the village scenes — especially the bar scene — were incredibly displayed and the transitions were written into the script. This was a classic example of a setting becoming a character in the story.
Some of the cast perfectly fit the characters and were so enjoyable. My favorites included Gaston who was spot-on character, Le Fue who offered wonderful comedic timing and several of the enchanted objects. I found Belle to be remarkably talented, the actress’ vocal performance was fantastic. But I felt conflicted through much of play: I’ve always considered Belle to be shy, kind, and a bit introverted. Middle and I agreed that she was portrayed in the performance as harsh and snappy, rather than soft and loving. We discussed this after the show and agreed that the actress certainly performed wonderfully, it just felt off-character to my much loved (perhaps misunderstood?) favorite princess. I’m now grappling with a bit of confusion: who is the real Belle?
Beast was beastly. In fact, the three-year-old sitting behind me was terrified. Sitting on her mother’s lap she was shaking and hiding through much of the first act. Middle found this to be distracting, for obvious reasons. We overheard a discussion during intermission through her fearful tears about how scary he and other elements were to her. Her 6ish-year-old cousin fared far better. Beast softens in the second act and the tired youngster left happier.
The sound during the production was off at times, and I’ve read that’s been an on and off problem throughout the tour, but we attended during press night and it’s expected that there will be hiccups with sound, so I’m hopeful that’s been corrected.
The show did feel long, “too long” my son said. The unfamiliar solos can likely be attributed to the length and “long” comments, as the ensemble scenes offered a lot to enjoy. In fact, he commented to me after Be Our Guest, “that’s the kind of songs I like to see. When everyone is out there singing and dancing and there’s energy!”
There were several parts of the show that were incredibly Disney-ish and reminded us of other shows we’ve seen (especially Aladdin.)
In summary, Disney’s Beauty & the Beast is not my all time favorite Broadway show, but it was definitely an entertaining night that will be a good memory for my son and me. And I’m glad we were able to see it. The musical is definitely a worthwhile show for fans of Broadway portrayals — especially those who thrill to see how scenery is transferred screen to stage as well as live character development and interpretation.
Should you take your kids to see Beauty & the Beast?
While the Kimmel Center recommends the show for ages three and up, as it’s a family-story, I don’t recommend it for children under age six. The child behind me served as a reminder that a beast on stage, as well as the wolves in the forest, are very scary — especially when you feel so close to them. They’re meant to scare, as the audience is meant to feel within the story. Because Beast softens during the second act, children leave the theater more relaxed, but parents of young children should be aware that there are several scary moments.
Additionally, it’s a longer show, so children need to be able to sit for a while — especially through the solos that aren’t in their familiar Disney movie. Those songs, for young children, will feel out of place. Many times during show kids needed to move and stretch in their seats.
Older children who love theater and the Disney story should enjoy the show, as my son did.
Get tickets and get ready!
Disney’s Beauty & the Beast is part of Broadway Philadelphia at the Academy of Arts through February 21. Tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased by calling (215) 893-1999, visiting www.kimmelcenter.org or at the Kimmel Center box office. Ticket prices start at $20; group sales are available for groups of 10 or more and can be purchased by calling (215) 790-5883.
I received tickets to see Beauty & the Beast in exchange for sharing it Julieverse. Beauty & the Beast image by Matthew Murphy, courtesy of Kimmel Center Press Center.
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