Review: Beauty And The Beast, The Musical

Riley Brack stars as Beast
(Photo Credit: Mark Kitaoka)

A (Beautifully Told) Tale As Old As Time
Beauty and the Beast, the musical
5th Avenue Theatre get tickets here
Through February 06, 2022

*Vaccinations (or negative test result) and Masks are required

No concessions will be served to encourage the wearing of masks at all times.

After a long (Covid induced) hiatus the 5th Avenue invites you to be their guest! The Disney musical and stage production of Beauty and the Beast has reopened Seattle’s oldest musical theatre. With all the magical songs (lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and music by Alan Menken) and the talented Seattle cast, this stage production is bound to leave the audience enchanted.

The storyline is familiar to most. Belle is a beautiful young lady who prefers the company of a good book instead of the boastful, brash men of her ‘small provincial town’. The most persistent of suitors is also the most arrogant, and Gaston brags that he will have Belle to wed, if for no other reason than that she is the most beautiful female. Belle’s father Maurice is an inventor and while on the way to displaying his latest creation, ends up lost in the woods. He seeks shelter in a deserted castle only to find that all of its residences (including the prince that rules there and all the servants) are under an enchantment. When Belle finds out what has happened to her father, she volunteers to exchange herself in place for her father’s captivity. Eventually, she charms Beast and teaches him that kindness is a much stronger attribute than being cruel. As affection grows between Belle and Beast, they realize that there is a time limit and, if their relationship doesn’t grow into love, the prince and his kingdom might be doomed forever.

This production is nothing but pure enjoyment. The entire cast all shine in their roles. The household servants all do wonderful jobs representing both their human and animated forms. The over-the-top dramatics of “Madame de la Grande Bouche” (played by Anne Allgood) as a vain performer who was turned into a wardrobe, adds to the show’s lightheartedness. The wonderful flirtations of “Babette”, a maid turned into a feather duster, (played by Be Russell) practically steals the show whenever she is on stage. It is the combination of Mrs. Potts (played by Lisa Estridge) and her son Chip (played by Arika Matoba), who are transformed into a teapot and cup, which add warmth to the transfigured household.

There are two main servants that are at the forefront of the prince’s staff. The first is Cogsworth (played by Jason Weitkamp), who is the leader of the household’s domestics, and therefore transformed into a ‘tightly wound’ clock. His antics can’t help but bring a smile to the faces of the audience no matter what age. The counterpart is Lumiere (played by Nicholas Japaul Bernard) who has been transformed into a gregarious candelabrum. Someone should call the theatre police because he steals the scene at every chance. He is funny, exuberant, and talented. It is his character that introduces the crowd-pleasing, song-and-dance spectacular, “Be Our Guest” – a number that does NOT disappoint.

Jaysen Wright (Gaston) and the company of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
(Photo Credit: Tracy Martin)

Mr. (Jason) Wright is no misnomer when it comes to playing the role of Gaston. He is definitely handsome enough with the proper amount of skin and muscle showing to give honesty to the role. His voice is rich and he adds the proper amount of conceit to share that inside ‘wink’ with the audience. Riley Brack plays the cursed prince-turned-Beast with as much grace and vigor. From his first appearance in character, Beast appears with the right enough of menace to inflict hesitation without implanting fear in younger audience members. His voice is a strong instrument, and easily captures the emotion needed to show the transformation from spoiled prince-to Beast- to a person of substance. In the closing number of Act One, “If I Can’t Love Her”, Mr. Brack’s portrayal shows all of the Beast’s breaking heart’s emotion, and the beginning of a great transformation through song.

If younger girls of today are looking for a ‘fairy-tale’ roll-model, look no further than Ms. Porscha Shaw’s portrayal of Belle.  It is a rarity that anyone allows the character to show as much individual strength, compassion, empathy and pure sass as Ms. Shaw brings to her character. This Belle is not some knowledgeable neophyte with her head in a book, and no common sense; no, she is a strong gal, ready to root her feet in the ground with both fists clenched, and has the knowledge to back it up. Her vocal instrument is strong, easily reaching out and holding the audience at command. The tenderness shines through in the songs (“Home” or “Something There”) and easily brings the sentimentality to the ear of all those listening.

This production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is pure fun and entertainment. From the Ensemble to the main characters, this show does not fail to bring a tapping to your toe or smile to your face. While there may be some scenes a little intense for the younger audience members, this is a Disney production and all violence happens off stage (spoiler: almost comically with Gaston’s death – work on that blocking). Get tickets for the family – or go alone/with friends as a guilty pleasure. Either way, you will be enchanted by the 5th Avenue’s production.

Beauty and the Beast is based on the Disney full-length animated feature by the same name. The film was released in 1994 with the vocal talents of Angela Lansbury, Paige O’Hara, Jerry Orbach, and Robby Benson among others. The stage musical opened on Broadway on April 19, 1994 and ran for over 13 years! Nominated for nine Tony Awards it only won for Best Costume Design (Ann Hould-Ward).

Beauty and the Beast, the musical
5th Avenue Theatre get tickets here
Through February 06, 2022

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at: http://www.EricAndrewsKatz.com

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