Beauty and the Beast brings the magic to life

Jackie Bussjaeger, Editor in Chief

The set looks like a cartoon: the shops in the village pop with vibrant color and unusual angles, and quiet candlelight glimmers in the gloomy depths of the castle. The characters are classic, dressed in their bright and instantly recognizable costumes from the animated film. Belle (Jillian Butterfield) displays the same reserved intelligence and exasperation, Maurice (Thomas Mothershed) retains the same kooky-but-lovable quirks and Gaston (Cameron Bond) embodies the same robust swagger that lovers of the movie already expect. While this touring production isn’t exactly a theatrical revolution, it accomplishes its purpose: re-envisioning the magic of the screen for live theater.

The audience was teeming with little girls in their fanciest princess dresses (split almost equally between Belle and Elsa) for last Sunday’s matinee, as well as plenty of older fans. A group of nearly 30 Hamline students attended as part of a HU Programming Board event. As a group who grew up watching the film, the stage adaptation was greatly appreciated for its nostalgic value.

Each scene is timed precisely; each line handed off almost before the viewer can comprehend the change of focus. Some of the dialogue feels a bit too quick, often relying on audience familiarity with the story. However, this also allows the actors to embellish with palpable comedic impact–the Beast’s wailing tantrum as his servants guide him through how to say “please” is a chuckleworthy sidetrack. The production sometimes sacrifices the underlying darkness of the tale for opportunities to milk laughs from the audience.

The usual showstopper, “Be Our Guest,” delivers an impossibly colorful, lavish routine that literally finishes with a bang as glittering streamers explode from cannons on either side of the stage. Although this is the classically “big” number, there are a few other songs that surprisingly embody the same spirited momentum, including the joyous “Human Again” sung by the enchanted objects as their hope of ending the spell bubbles over, and the Beast’s “If I Can’t Love Her,” which features the stunning baritone of Ryan Everett Wood in a highly emotional first-act finale.

The production stayed fairly true to the original Disney feature and to its Broadway run, but there were a few variations. One of the most critical changes was the absence of the Battle of the Castle scene, when the villagers storm the Beast’s castle and face off against an army of cheeky enchanted household appliances. Although this somewhat neutralizes the buildup from “Kill the Beast,” the transition into the pivotal fight between Gaston and the Beast covers the gap smoothly. The visual effects also warrant applause: the transformation scene alone provides an entire kaleidoscopic light show that leaves the mind whirling.

Though this production of Beauty and the Beast offers no real deviations from the Disney original, the classic and beloved story provides infectious fun and revisits the memories of childhood that we adore.

HUPB hosts student trips to the Orpheum every year, with a $20 student price. To find the details of these trips and other HUPB events, visit