Every person, no matter what age, can stand a little magic in his or her life, and Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” onstage now at DPAC, provides it in droves. Anyone who has seen the classic 1991 animated feature film of the same name will recognize the lively cast of characters—beautiful, free-spirited Belle (Hilary Maiberger) who dreams of escaping her “provincial life;” the Beast (Darick Pead), a prince whom a curse has transformed into a hideous creature; and the unforgettable group of servants-turned-enchanted-objects who occupy the Beast’s castle—but there is something wonderfully fantastic about seeing the cartoon brought to full and glorious life onstage. With real people in place of the animations, the story feels more touching, more poignant, and surprisingly, even more fantastical.
All of the major musical numbers from the film are there, including the Academy Award nominated “Be Our Guest.” That particular song is well-remembered from the movie version; when the number plays in the film, all the dishes spring to life to serenade and serve Belle. While such an animated feat might seem hard to top with “real people,” this production pulls out all the stops; dancers are bedecked as everything from flatware to napkins, and the fast-paced, exciting energy never falters throughout the long (but not overly so) song. Children and adults alike squealed with delight at Tuesday’s performance as the number ended in a shower of sparkly confetti raining down over the audience. The stage version also adds in a few new songs that serve to deepen character development and lengthen the performance to appropriate stage-length, but none of the additions ever feel superfluous.
Maiberger is perfectly cast as Belle, adding just the right touch of “feisty” to the character’s sweetness, and Pead offers up a fresh and surprisingly funny take on the Beast, one that sent audience members of all ages into peals of giggles several times during the Tuesday performance. James May’s stodgy “Cogsworth” and Tim Rogan’s perfect “Gaston” are also performance highlights. Rogan, in particular, looks like he was plucked straight from the cartoon and into real-life; his resemblance to the animated character is practically surreal.
“Beauty and the Beast” is an incredibly fun performance and will make for a perfect family outing. If you don’t have kids at home, however, don’t let that stop you! People of all ages, with and without little ones in tow, are flocking to this performance, and they’re leaving completely enthralled. In today’s often challenging, bleak world, “Beauty and the Beast” is wonderfully refreshing and provides escapism at its finest.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 and 10, 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 11, and 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco District.
TICKETS: $27.25-$90.25 (including fees).
DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/how_to_buy_tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/1741572. GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/group_services.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uizVpwvlNRI.
DPAC CONTENT ADVISORY: “Most parents would find this program suitable for ages 5 and above. All guests require a ticket, regardless of age. No one under the age of 5 admitted into the theater, and children must be able to sit quietly in their own seat without disturbing other guests.”
Beauty and the Beast (1740 folktale): http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0425c.html (Beauty and the Beast: Folktales of Type 425C, translated and/or edited by D.L. Ashliman) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast (Wikipedia).
Beauty and the Beast (1991 animated film): http://movies.disney.com/beauty-and-the-beast (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast_%281991_film%29 (Wikipedia).
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1994 Broadway and 1997 West End musical): http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000262 (Music Theatre International), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=1895 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
The Tour: http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/ (official website).
Study Guide: http://www.tuts.com/Images/SeasonShowDocs/beauty_study.pdf (Theatre Under the Stars of Houston, TX).
Alan Menken (composer): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Menken (unofficial website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Menken (Wikipedia).
Howard Ashman (lyricist): http://www.howardashman.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Ashman (Wikipedia).
Sir Tim Rice (lyricist): http://www.timrice.co.uk/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Rice (Wikipedia).
Linda Woolverton (librettist): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Woolverton (Wikipedia).
NETworks Presentations, LLC (producer): http://www.networksontour.com/ (official website).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.