Thursday, December 17, 2009

Beauty And The Beast (The SOB Review)

Beauty And The Beast (The SOB Review) - Main Hall, Ordway Center For The Performing Arts, St. Paul, Minnesota

***1/2 (out of ****)

Certainly, the tale is as old as time.

By now, even Disney's Oscar-nominated animated feature may already be showing its years. But I was positively swept away by the Ordway's stunning new stage revival of Disney's Beauty And The Beast. It seems like new again.

I had previously seen Beauty And The Beast on Broadway -- once shortly after it first opened at the Palace Theatre in 1994 and then again at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre a few years before it closed in 2007 when it was really showing its age.

So imagine my surprise and delight in seeing Robert Johanson's incredibly fresh and fully-realized revival with exceptionally spirited acting (with one glaring exception), boisterous singing and rousing choreography (Linda Talcott Lee), as well as Kate Sutton-Johnson's gorgeous set design. Each of these elements popped even more thanks to its incorporation of a massive projection design.

Jeremiah James brings exceptional depth to the role of the Beast, humanizing him with tremendous skill. The comedic triple threat Jonathan Burgard succeeds in stealing practically every scene by adding real muscle to his Gaston -- why isn't this guy on Broadway? But alas, the wooden Laurine Price's Belle is out of her element, which is a shame given how essential this Beauty's role is to the story.

Nevertheless, this Beauty And The Beast offers much for your eyes to behold. And it's perfect holiday entertainment for the entire family.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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