Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Beauty Out On Broadway

Beauty Out On Broadway

If you polled most Broadway pundits on the musical most likely to depart its boards to make room for another production by the same creative team, I'd wager that most would respond, "The Producers." After all, Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein is already eagerly anticipated and expected to take over the former's berth at the St. James Theatre.

But today, the folks at Disney announced they're going to finally put a fork in Beauty And The Beast, making room at Broadway's Lunt-Fontaine Theatre for their stage adaptation of their animated screen feature Little Mermaid. Beauty And The Beast, of course, was based on the only all-animation film to ever be Academy Award nominated for Best Picture (1991). However, "Little Mermaid" is largely credited as the flick that in 1989 helped rejuvenate Disney's credentials in a declining genre.

I have to be candid. I thoroughly enjoyed the magic of Beauty And The Beast not long after its 1994 debut at the Palace Theatre, but when I revisited the show a couple years ago at the Lunt-Fontaine, I was a bit embarrassed by how tired, if not shoddy, the tuner had become.

In recent years, the production has heavily relied on stunt-casting, including the recent turn by former teen idol Donny Osmond as Gaston, and they actually have an actor worth seeing now that John Tartaglia (Avenue Q) is portraying Lumiere. To its credit, the musical still managed to draw a capacity of 80.3% last week for a take of $590,259. But the production looked so thoroughly exhausted when I last saw it, I wished that they would have put this Beast out of its misery and let it die with dignity long ago.

When Beauty And The Beast finally closes on July 29, it will have had 5,464 regular performances, enough to make it one of the Great White Way's longest running hits -- number 6, to be precise.

The Little Mermaid will make its first splash just a few days before Beauty And The Beast closes -- July 26 -- at Denver's Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Opening night on Broadway is currently scheduled just in time for the Holidays on December 6.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Stunt Casting That Has Me Reeling (September 20, 2006)
Broadway Box Office Rebounds (September 19, 2006)
Fall At Broadway's Box Office (September 12, 2006)
Specially-Priced Tickets for Beauty And The Beast, Hairspray (June 7, 2006)
Casting Call (Week Ending May 21, 2006) (May 21, 2006)

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At 22 January, 2007, Blogger Mike said...

So Steve -- as someone who has never seen this "Beauty..." in any form, and that includes the movie, should I try to pay it a visit before it leaves just for completeness sake?

At 22 January, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Mike, I can only tell you what I thought of the show I saw two years ago. At best, it would only get a two-out-of-four rating with me (the original would have merited a 3 1/2), and I know some think I'm too generous with my ratings. Unless you're really intent on seeing John Tartaglia in every show he's been in, save yourself some money and rent the DVD!


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