Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Broward Center: Beauty and the Beast (4 reviews)

The NETworks production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast opened at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts on November 15, 2011.
Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
Disney's Beauty and The Beast filled the huge stage at the Au-Rene Theatre at the Broward Center with thirty highly talented performers and that was good, but what was even better was the production by some really talented, imaginative people.
A good cast working here, but the star by far was Logan Denninghoff as Gaston, Belle's bad boy would be lover.  Singing, dancing and with a smirk that would shame Oil Can Harry (oh, look him up), Denninghoff lit up the hall, a hard thing to do in that large house.  His constantly abused sidekick, Lefou, was the wonderfully physical Andrew Kruep.  Not that everybody else was chopped liver, far from it, although Emily Behny's vocal edge, she played Belle, could probably cut diamonds.  Dane Agostinis was impressive as the Beast, not so much so as the handsome prince.

No slackers in the rest of the huge cast, the costumes were a delight, the settings inspired, the music most enjoyable and the ladies of the ensemble were, ahem, surprisingly well-endowed.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast stopped in Miami less than a year ago, and now the show is back in South Florida, this time at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. But it isn’t just the venue that has changed. So has the cast, with different actors singing those bouncy, emotion-filled songs...
At the Broward Center, there’s plenty of joy and laughter to go around in director Rob Roth’s staging, which hews to the story’s cartoon roots. Emily Behny is a pretty, plucky, clarion-voiced Belle. Dane Agostinis sings with an ache in his voice as the Beast, particularly on the haunting If I Can’t Love Her, and he conveys the character’s awkward goofiness as the formerly vain prince attempts to woo the lovely Belle.
The actors playing the Beast’s staff — a collection of part-human, part-object servants — don’t have the element of comic surprise that worked so well in the movie and the original Broadway production.... Other than working the visual jokes, the performers don’t find a way of making those roles memorable.

However, as noted, Beauty and the Beast is a show that makes kids happy. So if you have some, by all means go and enjoy.
Lauro Souto Laramee was sent by The Palm Beach Post:
The familiar tale of Beauty and The Beast opened Tuesday night at the Broward Center with a huge production, amazing sets and spectacular costumes.
Emily Behny as Belle is fabulous with an angelic voice and face that rivals the original Belle. Dane Agostinis plays a scary, funny and simply charming Beast. Florida native Logan Denninghoff plays Gaston with confidence galore...
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The facile and sophisticated pose would be to sneer at the sentiment and, yes, manipulative facets of the new tour of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast gracing the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. But the inescapable fact is this refurbished and re-imagined production has rediscovered some of the loveliness and magic that the road has worn off earlier appearances.
The original creative team has rebuilt enough physical and performance elements that this seems like a fresh show. If you’ve seen it before or even once too often, you may be surprised at how involving it is....Much of this is due to the cast who uniformly execute their roles with a crispness, verve and zest...
Dane Agostinis is an appropriately feral and then hesitant Beast, Michael Haller is a jolly enough Lumiere, Benjamin Lovell is the fussy Cogsworth, Andrew Kruep is a clownish Lefou who does a dozen pratfalls, Julia Louise Hosack is a matronly Mrs. Potts who caresses the title song, and Logan Denninghoff is just delightful as the egomaniacal preening fool Gaston who is deeply and hopelessly in love with himself.
But it’s Emily Behny as Belle who is the winning standout... she radiates sheer loveliness. Pertly attractive and blessed with a liquid voice, Behny not only wins us over instantly, but carries us through the production. And, again, it’s her powers as an actress that deliver the magic in the script and score
It’s been said before, I think in my 1998 review of the first national tour, that the 1991 film was far more enchanting and affecting. As solid as the big production number “Be Our Guest” is here, nothing can match the row upon row of silverware and crockery dancing to a 100-piece orchestra that the animators could come up with.

But this edition is as thoroughly entertaining as you could ask of an 18-year-old warhorse.
The NETworks production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast plays at the Broward Center through November 27, 2011.

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