Review of Beauty and the Beast at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Quote of the Day: You can’t order people to be hungry. Belle to the Beast when he insists that she join him for dinner. She doesn’t, claiming that she isn’t hungry. You can’t force people to feel hunger, or love. I didn’t really understand the story of Beauty and the Beast until I saw the full stage production at our local community theatre this past fall. My sister played Belle, and I saw the strength of character that she has. At first the story seems a little creepy. A cursed and terrifying beast first throws Belle’s father in his dungeon simply because he has stumbled upon his castle and taken refuge there to escape the wolves from the forest. Then, he takes Belle in place of her father, without even letting her say good-bye. He tries to order her around, keeps her trapped in his castle, and strikes fear in his servants, dehumanizing the whole place with his selfish and overbearing ways (the curse). What we learn from Belle is that you can be kind and strong. So often people mistake kindness for weakness, but Belle shows us something different. She talks back to the Beast. She doesn’t let him bully her around. He learns that he can’t use the same scare tactics with her. With a little guidance from his servant-objects, he figures out how to be a little more gentle. He’s afraid, of course, to show his softer side, but that is the only way to win the girl’s heart. By the time we get to the song “A change in heart, a change in me,” we realize that both the Beast and Belle have to see past the outer shell to find the true person within.
The library scene gets me every time. Here is the Beast sitting at the feet of Belle, listening to her read. He has to admit that he can’t read very well. She shows her gentleness, he his vulnerability. That cozy tenderness that comes from reading together, sharing a moment, and connecting through stories becomes the moment where they both have a change of heart. The servant-objects stand back and marvel, feeling hope that they can be “Human again,” another song that touches the heartstrings.
The wardrobe department deserves the standing ovation for the fabulous costumes in this production. We were all in awe. Most of the household objects/characters were in whites and golds.The costumes/characters are also set pieces, in a way. They had to be designed to look like the objects and yet flexible enough for the cast members to be able to move, even dance, in them! The gargoyles (an addition to this production) were in pale grey with gossamer wings and often blended in with the set to give us a surprise as they danced, moved set pieces, and manipulated the hanging cloths. All the young dancers who played the gargoyles were wonderful, sometimes holding so still you barely noticed them, then coming to life in a mesmerizing way.
Beauty and the Beast is the perfect show for the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. “Be Our Guest” could be there theme song. They wine you and dine you and give you a tremendous show. This show will delight audiences of all ages. It’s a fairy tale with both villains and heroes, romance, humor, incredible dancing, stunning costumes/set, a smart and caring leading lady, and a Beast who learns what is important. It has the songs and characters you love from the Disney movie with the style and personal touch of the talented team at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, and the emotional experience that live theatre does best. Round up the kids, bring Grandma, tell your teens the food is good and the actors are stunning. Don’t miss this one!
Beauty and the Beast is playing at The Chanhassen Dinner Theatre through October 2016.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: When have you been brave? Did you stand up to a bully? Try to make a difference even when the odds are against you?