A parent’s review: Beauty and the Beast at the Paramount
In 1991 Beauty and the Beast captured hearts around the world with its cinematic debut. The film’s beautiful story and inspiring music made for a winning combination that even the Academy Awards couldn’t ignore, making it the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture.
That magical pairing of story and song also became Disney’s first animated film to be adapted into a Broadway musical. The touring company of Beauty and the Beasthas landed in Seattle for a brief visit, so if you want to get in on the magic, you better get your tickets now.
The musical production of Beauty and the Beast retains the best of the film while adding a few touches necessary for the stage. The songs are the heart and soul of any musical. For the stage production, Beauty and the Beast has six songs from the film, one song cut from the film, and six more songs added for the stage adaptation.
Most notable of the new songs is Belle’s A Change in Me. Not only does the song help the storyline, it also gives Jillian Butterfield a chance to shine. My 10-year-old daughter was so happy to see Belle get a song of her own. As she said, “It’s only fair, since the main song is sung by a teapot.” By the way, that teapot, Emily Jewell, does a smashing job of it.
Along with great songs comes dancing. The show attempts to disguise the limited size of its cast with some very quick costumes changes. Look closely; those dancing dishes are the same people you just saw as dancing flatware. Patrick Pevehouse shines as Lumiere (pun intended) in the Be Our Guest number.
However, our favorite number of the night was the tavern scene as the villagers sing the praises of Gaston, masterfully portrayed by Cameron Bond. The tavern dance number is perhaps the greatest improvement that the musical makes from the film. This dance number will require your full attention, but during other times that the tavern set is on stage, be on the lookout: There is a hidden “Mickey ears” in the tavern set drop.
Adapting an animated movie into a musical has some inherent challenges, and this is especially true for Beauty and the Beast. How does one make walking, talking, singing, dancing candlesticks and clocks? Costume designer, Ann Hould-Ward, came up with some pretty amazing answers, blurring the lines of what is real. The performance of Daniel Gold as the enchanted carpet was a real treat, albeit brief. The costumes of the enchanted characters truly embody the essence of their object counterparts while enhancing aspects of their personalities.
My daughter, who is becoming quite the theater buff, raved about the sets used to make the castle. With platforms and golden staircases whirling and twirling about the stage, the show created a sense of space much larger than the stage itself. There are two scenes in the show where characters encounter a pack of wolves in the woods. The wolves are portrayed by puppets that allow for some amazing choreography and also prevent the wolves from becoming too scary.
The story of Beauty and the Beast is full of magic, and sometimes that can be hard to pull off in front of a live audience. Occasionally, it is necessary to employ flashes of light, smoke and even a moment of complete darkness. None of these happen for more than a few seconds, but it is something you might prepare a younger child to expect. Some parents may worry about the Beast seeming too scary. When Belle first meets the Beast, he seems the scariest, perhaps because that is when Belle acts scared as well. Once she starts to ignore him, chastise him and call him rude, the audience can also dismiss his roaring as just a bad temper.
The show runs right around two-and-a-half hours. Luckily, the Paramount Theatre knows its audience, and the concession stand includes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches and even some Dali’s coconut cream pie.
Try to get there early, as parking can be tricky in this area. Plus, with a show that attracts many children, the limited number of pillow cushion boosters may already be taken if you cut it too close to show time. Since the first half of the show is longer than the second, it is best to take little ones for bathroom breaks before the show starts. If your child plans to don her princess best, you might consider adding a sleeved shirt and leggings underneath as the theater can be a bit cold.
A tale as old as time deserves to be told over and over again, and we never get tired of hearing it. Beauty and the Beast is a classic, pure and simple. The show will be a treasured memory for princes and princesses alike, young and old. The show has traveled to 21 countries around the world, delighting more than 35 million audience members. So break out your tiaras and get downtown before it’s too late. Tickets range from $25-$140.
911 Pine St., Seattle, 981o1
877-STG-4TIX or 877-784-4849
Kelly Rogers Flynt is a freelance writer based out of Lake Forest Park and the mother of two children, ages 10 and 13, who are nine parts beauty and one part beast.