Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Beauty and the Beast
Also see Tracy's recent review of A Class Act
Disney has hit DC, and it has come in the form of the delightful musical, Beauty and the Beast. Inspired by Disney's successful animated film, Beauty and the Beast has long been a staple on Broadway. Now the touring production has landed at the National Theatre.
Just as in the film, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of Belle, a lovely young women who prefers books to brawny men and the seemingly horrible Beast who is more than he appears to be.
The music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice come together to comprise a score that is infectious and fun. However, the vibrant pieces are balanced by some very stirring tunes. The score is supported by an excellent book by Linda Woolverton. Ms. Woolverton has provided a tightly written script that manages to contain a good dose of humor while exploring the deeper meaning behind this enduring tale.
Disney shows are known for their high production value and they have not skimped on this tour. The sets, designed by Stanley A. Meyer seem larger than life. They work in concert with Natasha Katz's artistic lighting design and Ann Hould-Ward's detailed costumes to create a remarkable picture.
Director Robert Jess Roth, leads an excellent cast that appears to have boundless energy. This is especially evident during one of the strongest numbers in the show, "Be Our Guest."
As the studious Belle, Jennifer Shrader (pictured at right) is charming. She carries the show without even the slightest misstep and proves to be an outstanding actress as well as dancer and singer. Roger Befeler's Beast is ferocious yet empathetic. Vocally, he is extremely talented and he shows off his chops with a splendid performance of "If I Can't Love Her."
Rob Lorey as Lumiere and Andrew Boyer as Cogsworth provide some wonderful comic moments. Lorey is especially strong as the amorous candlestick, and his performance is definitely a crowd pleaser. Additionally, Mary Jo McConnell is quite sweet as Mrs. Potts and handles the show's title song, "Beauty and the Beast" very well. The whole group is backed up by a lush sounding orchestra that is headed up by conductor, J. Randall Booth.
Many may think that this piece would only appeal to children. However, this is not just another kid's show. It is a musical with a universal appeal. Beauty and the Beast is definitely for both the young and the young at heart. Beauty and the Beast runs through June 7th.
The National Theatre
Cast List (in order of appearance)
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