Review: Portland Opera and Broadway Across America Present – Beauty and the Beast 1

So, I have another little confession to make. I used to dance… a lot. From age 3 through most of my college years. One of my last performances at my local dance studio in Colorado was Beauty & the Beast. I was part of the gang of wolves that attacked Beast. Looking back on it now, it was highly embarrassing. I had a maroon velvet unitard (shut it) and a sequined mask with black jazz shoes. Ha cha cha chaaaaa *jazz hands* Ok, not that it wasn’t fun, but it was no where near Disney quality.

The smash hit Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast has come to Portland at the Keller Auditorium. Complete with puppet wolves and much better costumes, it’s only here for 8 performances, (closing Sunday evening – 2/19), and you won’t want to miss the chance to take the whole family to this one. Timed out at just about 2.5 hours with a 15 minute intermission, it was the perfect length to be able to take the little ones to which many families did.

The musical was very true to the movie which, let’s face it, we’ve all seen at least once. There were a few new songs added to the mix that I hadn’t heard before that did seem to fit the musical just fine. I’ve been to a few musicals based off plays/movies etc, where the additions felt really out of place, or unpolished but these seemed to fit in nicely. Little girls had their Belle dresses on and were dancing in the aisles to the music of Alan Menken which is always a good sign.

The sets for this production were pretty amazing. Not lacking in depth or elaboration, I was surprised at how simple some of the sets were actually at times. The village scenes were fairly paired down to a few moving pieces and honestly, I like it when the actors move set pieces themselves. The cast was pretty entertaining – highlights for me included Lumiere’s thick French accent and perfect comedic timing, Gaston’s vanity was captured nicely, and of course the vocal talents of Belle played beautifully by Emily Behny. Everyone’s favorite (I don’t think I even need to guess on this one) number was “Be Our Guest”. What a fun performance! It was truly one that took me completely out of my element of sitting in my chair and feeling like I was the guest they were talking to. With streamers, wild plates and forks and salt and pepper shakers, the costumes for this song were fantastic. I really wish I could have worked wardrobe for this show where you would get to transform an actor from a villager to a piece of silverware -that would have been awesome.

The only gripe I have about this show was that I didn’t notice an orchestra at all during this production, even though they were there. It was weird – Usually you can see the head of the conductor or lights on in the pit, but I must have been completely blind for I didn’t see any of that. It wasn’t until the end of the show when the cast bowed to them did I realize it. I guess that’s a good sign? The music was indeed great, bold and powerful so nice job orchestra people!

If you are looking for a fun evening out with the family – or just with the lovebird in your life, this is a perfect outing.

Beauty and the Beast has 5 more performances left!

Tonight (Friday 2/17) at 7:30

Saturday (2/18) at 2:00PM and 7:30PM

Sunday (2/19) at 1:30PM and 7:00PM

Tickets are still available!