Sunday, September 24, 2006

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: Nine years later...

I was a little surprised when my twelve year old daughter said she wanted to see BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. After all, she had seen it when she was about three and a half -- so what's the rush to see it again? Usually when we go on a trip to New York we have such a full plate of new shows that longer-running shows like BEAUTY AND THE BEST usually get overlooked. But Donny Osmond had just joined the cast as Gaston and Myrna loved him in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.

The t-shirt she bought after seeing Donny as Joseph (now too small of course) has remained her favorite show t-shirt (although "I Love Hugh" from the 2005 Tonys came in a close second...). She's also watched the Joseph DVD with Donny many, many times (it also stars Maria Friedman and she is fab as the narrator!).

So off we went to a Saturday matinee. I was excited to see Donny as well since I was a big Osmond fan and a big Donny fan and a big Donny and Marie fan. "Puppy Love", "Sweet and Innocent", "Go Away Little Girl" -- I couldn't get enough of Donny Osmond! Yes this is the same person who would later go to midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Roxy, and take their kids to a midnight Kegger! I also was an avid watcher of the Donny & Marie show which is coming out on DVD soon (yeah!). Personally, I always thought of myself as a little bit rock 'n roll.

I had also seen Sarah Uriarte Berry sing at Broadway on Broadway, so I was excited to see her return as Belle. Myrna had met one of the Chips, Marlon Sherman, at Camp Broadway this summer so she was excited to see him too.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is playing at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (which has great washrooms, FYI) and has a book by Linda Woolverton, Music by Alan Menken and Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

I had forgotten what a wonderful show it is. It's such a beautiful show that tells a great story with great characters and magical music -- no self referential business needed, no wink-wink we're putting on a musical. The whole cast was fabulous -- funny, committed, with great voices, dancing and timing. I especially enjoyed Cogsworth (Christopher Duva), Lefou (Aldrin Gonzalez), and the Beast (Steve Blanchard).

Sarah Uriarte Berry was UN-BE-LIEVE-ABLE as Belle. What a gorgeous voice! She acted like a beautifully grounded center around which circled all the crazy characters and action. I could watch her all night. Her performance of "Home" and "A Change in Me" were fantastic.

Donny Osmond was frikkin' FANTASTIC as Gaston. He was the character Gaston, not Donny Osmond the pop singer. His voice sounds great, a nice rich baritone, and man that guy is a professional. He looks so comfortable up there on stage and hits everyone of his marks with clockwork precision. I love a performance where you can sit back and relax and know the performer is going to deliver, you don't have to worry. My daughter particularly enjoyed the mug dance in the "Gaston" number. And the combo of Donny and Sarah seemed to electrify the cast.

Seeing BEAUTY AND THE BEAST again also brought me back to the early days of the "new generation" of animated Disney musicals -- The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin. I remember seeing the Alan Menken-Howard Ashman movie musical Little Mermaid in the theatres and being inspired to start writing musicals. My daughter loved seeing BEAUTY AND THE BEAST on stage again, and we can't wait to see THE LITTLE MERMAID when it swims onto Broadway in the next year or so...

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