Written by: Garrett Biggs
After a successful trip to San Francisco in 2010, the touring production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast returned to the Bay Area courtesy of Broadway San Jose. This particular production achieves exactly what it aims to do, which is recreate the magic of the Disney movie, on stage.
Needless to say, Beauty and the Beast is the perfect show to bring the entire family to, and from what I saw, audiences of all ages found something to enjoy here.
From the opening of the show, you see just how “big” this show is going to be. The set is massive and intricate, giving a truly storybook feel to it. In the prologue to the show, you get a quick look at some master puppetry, as well as some of the best lighting I have seen in a touring production. It then transitions seamlessly into the classic opening “Belle” where we get a taste of how true to the movie this is.
Beauty and the Beast doesn’t just stay true to the music and the dialogue though, but the feel of the show as well. The credit for this lies probably with the casting directors, who found the perfect fit for almost every single role in the musical.
Each actor in this show lives up to the potential of their character, which is difficult to do when every single person in the audience knows and loves the characters already. Logan Denninghoff is absolutely perfect for the role of Gaston, and it feels as if he’s been ripped right out of the movie and thrown on stage. He delivered every single line hilariously and was probably the true star of the show. The number “Gaston” is one of the most exciting parts of the show with probably the best and most accessible choreography you’ll see.
Dane Agostinis (Beast) shines, but in a different way than you would think. He doesn’t stick to the classic Beast, like Denninghoff does to Gaston. Instead, I suppose you would refer to him as more of a “bro-like” Beast. Some of the scenes in the second act when Lumiere and Cogsworth are helping him woo Belle are wonderful as he is acting like nothing short of a bro. Agostinis took the role as far as he could, but not so far it made you feel uncomfortable. The children seemed to enjoy him the most of any of the actors.
My personal favorite though was Jen Bechter (Madame de la Grande Bouche) who left me falling out of my seat in laughter, in a featured role at best. She was just another example of the cast living up to their potential as a whole.
One of my few complaints with the show was the staging. It was obvious to see what they were doing: It was supposed to be as big and eye grabbing as possible. That probably worked brilliantly with little kids. For me though, it was simply annoying and by no means aesthetically pleasing.
Also—Does Lefou need to roll onto the stage literally every single time he made an appearance? It’s fun once or twice to see that, but he rolled almost every single time. The directors attempted at physical humor all throughout the show between Gaston and Lefou, yet it was nothing but awkward. It looked horribly unrealistic. Yes, it’s supposed to be exaggerated, but not that much.
Beauty and the Beast also gets major respect from me for some of the “smaller” technical aspects they used. Maurices’ invention at the start of the show is a beautiful technical contraption that had me turning to my friend asking if he was really driving that thing. There were also the confetti cannons that were used at the end of “Be Our Guest”, which came from both the top and the sides of the theater.
“Be Our Guest” is brilliant and lives up to the movie 100%. The set changes completely, but it is seamless and exciting. This song defines the entire show: big, flashy, fun and classic Disney. Kids love it, adults love it, it is just why this is the perfect family show.
Beauty and the Beast isn’t going to change your life, but does everything you want it to. It stays true to the show, but has enough changes to keep you interested throughout.