BWW Reviews: DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST Enchants in Cincinnati
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by Jill Siekman
The Aronoff Center for the Arts is currently enchanted with Disney's Beauty and the Beast, playing now through October 9th.
Another Disney Broadway production based upon the Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast has a lot of beauty, with some beastly features too. Many know the basis behind the movie and this non-Equity touring production varies very little from the well-loved Disney film classic. There's the bookish Belle (Emily Behny), who longs to leave the small, provincial life behind to see the world she reads about in books. Her eccentric father (Christopher Spencer), an inventor, gets lost in the woods and stumbles upon a dark castle in the woods and becomes imprisoned by the Beast (Dane Agostinis), who has been transformed into the ghastly creature because he was, frankly, a self-centered brat when he was younger. Belle finds her father and offers herself to the Beast as a prisoner in exchange for her father's freedom.
Behny made the whole journey worthwhile with her beautiful portrayal of Belle, who no doubt, had the attention of all the little girls in the audience. Her voice was beautiful and pleasant, and she tended to outshine the Beast.
Some of the household objects, the staff of the house who were also transformed in the magic spell that changed the Beast, were also enjoyable, particularly Michael Haller as Lumiere, and Benjamin Lovell as Cogsworth. The duo were the best played of the household objects. The dancing silverware lost much of it's movie-magic on the stage.
Along the way, the plot gets some overly-played comic relief from Gaston (Logan Denninghoff), an eccentric womanizer vying for Belle's attention and his slapstick sidekick, Lefou (Andrew Kruep).
The production comes off to me as rather underwhelming with visually overstimulating sets. The proscenium arches and background of the inside of the castle is rather gaudy and busy, with lots of bright gold and swirls. Rather than an impressive and intimidating castle, it comes off as rather cheap, definitely not something reminiscent of a Disney production.
With a cast of around thirty, there's a lot of talent on stage that manages to shine through to make the show overall pleasant. The production is a little disappointing for a Disney production, especially with having The Lion King recently in Dayton and Mary Poppins here in April 2010. Children and those who are huge fans of the Disney movie will probably enjoy the tale reimagined for the stage, despite it's shortcomings.
Tickets start at $27.50 and may be purchased online at BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com, in person at the Broadway in Cincinnati Box Office downtown in the Mercantile Center at 120 East 4th Street and the Aronoff Center Box Office or by phone at 800-982-2787.