Everything about this production is perfection, especially the appearance of Broadway’s original “Belle,” the incredible Susan Egan, who reprises her role for one last time.
“Beauty And The Beast,” for those of you unfamiliar with its origins, is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice along with a book by Linda Woolverton. The show was adapted from Walt Disney’s Academy Award-winning 1991 animated musical film of the same name
The musical first opened on Broadway on April 18, 1994, starring Miss Egan, and ran for 5,461 performances over thirteen years. Even though I saw the live action film version last year, which I absolutely loved, I was so looking forward to this production. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was absolutely blown away.
When the show opens, it’s a cold winter night, and a young, spoiled Prince is having a party in his castle. There’s a knock on the door and we see an old beggar woman holding a rose. She offers the Prince the rose in exchange for shelter. But the arrogant Prince turns her away because of her appearance. Apparently, he only wants “hot chicks” around. Bad move.
The beggar woman warns him not to be fooled by appearances, as true beauty lies within and she gives the Prince one more chance to do the right thing. But it’s still a no-go. So, after getting rejected twice, the beggar woman transforms him into a hideous beast played by the extremely talented Jason Chacon.
Ten years later, Belle’s father, Maurice (David Gilchrist), stumbles upon the Beast’s castle and becomes his prisoner. When Belle finds out, she goes to the Beast and makes him an offer he can’t refuse…Let my father go and I’ll be your prisoner. Of course the Beast complies. I mean, how could he not? An old man in exchanged for a gorgeous, intelligent girl who sings and dances. No brainer.
We soon find out that the Prince wasn’t the only one to have a spell cast upon him by the Enchantress The spell affected everyone in the household. From the housekeeper to the butler to the cook, they are all on the verge of losing their humanity. If the Beast doesn’t fall in love by the time the last petal on the rose falls off, all will be lost for him and for his household staff.
Every single person in the cast is fantastic, including Marc Ginsburg as Lumiere, a maitre d’ turned into a candelabra, Babette (Devon Davidson), a maid turned into a feather duster that still seems to retain her flirtatious tendencies, Mrs Potts, (Sarah Marie), the head of the kitchen who has been turned into a teapot, and her son, Chip, (Luke Pryor) turned into a teacup.
I musn’t forget to mention the over-the-top narcissist Gaston, played brilliantly by Adam Hollick, who wants Belle for his wife. I don’t think a character has ever been as vain as Gaston, and Hollick nails it on every level.
This musical will have you laughing, smiling, dancing in your seats and even tearing up. I know I did at the end. It’s a story that will lift your spirit and fill your heart. After all, “Beauty And The Beast” is about true friendship and a love that knows no limitations.
“Beauty And The Beast,” directed brilliantly by Yvette Lawrence opened on Friday, July 20, 2018, at the Fred Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza located at 2100 Thousand Oaks Boulevard in Thousand Oaks. It plays Thursdays at 7:30pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm; and Sundays at 2pm with an added performance on Wednesday, July 25 at 1:00pm. The final performance will be on July 29th at 1:00pm.
Tickets range from $35 -$89. To purchase: Call 1-800-745-3000 or go to the website.