Thursday, January 1, 2015

Arsht Center: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (reviews)

Beauty-Beast-690x310The national tour of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on December 30, 2014.
Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, this eye-popping spectacle has won the hearts of over 35 million people worldwide. This classic musical love story is filled with unforgettable characters, lavish sets and costumes, and dazzling production numbers including “Be Our Guest” and the beloved title song.
Rob Roth directed a cast that included Ryan Everett Wood, Jillian Butterfield, Cameron Bond, Patrick Pevehouse,
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Every single hand gesture, every arched eyebrow, every grimace or grin, every inflection on every line, every single moment is carefully choreographed and frozen in place. Every two or three seconds is consciously filled with some bit of director’s business accumulated no doubt piece by piece through 20 years on Broadway or on the road.
And yet it works. Undeniably, this sharply honed, finely tuned, precisely executed piece of theater inexplicably does not seem stale. If there isn’t an overflowing sense of soul pouring from the stage, no one connected to this perfectly manufactured work is coasting like a bored 20-something working for minimum wage as a theme park character. Everyone is throwing every shred of craft they possess into it.
The actors have invested some of their own personalized charisma and charm, notably Ryan Everett Wood as the Beast with his alternating bluster and adolescent-at-his-first-dance awkwardness. He and the winsome Jillian Butterfield as the resolutely independent Belle have the requisite clarion voices for slamming out those “deeply-felt” power ballads and anthems. But you can tell that they, and everyone else, are working off a template as clear-cut as a blueprint…  Cameron Bond as the blowhard Gaston is especially skilled at inhabiting the two-dimensional bully.
This production is the 2010 reboot that freshened up three previous tours, the last ending in 2003, believe it or not. So if you’ve seen the show before, this one doesn’t break much new ground. But if you haven’t or you want to take someone who hasn’t, this is as good a production as you can ask for.
Howard Cohen wrote for The Miami Herald:
Beauty and the Beast’s origins date to French novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s traditional fairy tale Belle et la Bête in 1756. For a “tale as old as time,” the hardy Disney musical adaptation, based on the studio’s animated 1991 Best Picture Oscar nominee, still has the ability to enchant an audience of children.
Credit an engaging cast who can pull some honest adult emotions from the Disney Broadway show’s broad humor and cartoon roots. Butterfield is particularly charming. The actress has a clear voice, pretty face, and is inspiring as the resourceful and bookish Belle who stumbles upon the hirsute, cursed Beast. Belle’s love has the power to lift a spell and return the fanged creature to an ordinary-looking prince.
Wood has just the right hint of menace to balance the jokey silliness that sometimes creeps into his role in the second act. Wood’s singing is also poignant and commanding…
Familiarity robs a bit of the comedic surprise when we meet Beast’s quirky and adorable castle staff… But the actors are game and likable, which lets you overlook the fact that the supposedly French Lumiere (Patrick Pevehouse) often sounds a bit like American comedian Steve Martin.
Beauty and the Beast might not be great theater but venture once again into Belle’s world of “mystery and adventure and romance and happy endings?” Sure. The kids will be delighted and you might well be grateful that you took up Disney’s invitation for the umpteenth time.
Rod Stafford Hagwood wrote for The Sun-Sentinel:
Just as you would expect, Disney's Beauty and the Beast at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is a locked-down, highly disciplined production.  As efficiently calibrated as a ride at Disney World and as broadly played as a Nickelodeon TV show, the musical is sprite and bright enough for younger and squirmier audience members
Like the movie, the show is about a handsome prince turned into the Beast (Ryan Everett Wood, a brash belter) as punishment for his selfishness. The magical spell can be broken if he can earn love. Enter Belle (Jillian Butterfield, comfortable but controlled), a resourceful girl who is being romantically pursued by village-hottie Gaston (Cameron Bond, a cartoonish conceited hoot who almost steals the show).
The national tour of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast plays at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through January 4, 2015.

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