But anyway, we saw a local production of Beauty and the Beast on Wednesday, and I still haven't reported on it! First of all, of the three productions we've seen of the show, this one was by far the best. Leaps and bounds above the other two. As usual, we have our critiques, but overall, the production was pretty darn good. So let's start with what we didn't like about it, and then we can end on the positives.
First off, I don't know if it was a sound issue or if it was just the ensemble, but whenever there was a harmony part in a song, that stood out so much more than the melody that you almost couldn't hear the melody, which was a bummer, because much as I love harmony, it's only really great when put together with all the other parts, and most importantly, the melody. The other problem with the ensemble numbers is that they were a little slow. They seemed to be pretty well choreographed, but as soon as the song really got into the swing of things, it felt like everything went into slow motion a little bit. I like ensemble numbers because they usually have so much energy, but these ones felt a little tired.
And then there was Belle. She had an amazing voice, I will give her that much, but she seemed to shout most of her lines, and she seemed angry a lot of the time. I guess that kind of makes sense if you consider the fact that now people associate Belle with Emma Watson, who is best known for playing Hermione, who also seemed unreasonably angry much of the time (at least in Goblet of Fire, anyway, but the point is, watching that movie made me wonder if people think smart people are just angry all the time). But mostly she just didn't seem to understand the character very much. In the scene where she's talking to Maurice and wondering if she's odd, she's supposed to be sad because she feels insecure and like nobody likes her. But Maurice says, "My daughter? Odd? What ever gave you that idea?" and then some random townspeople make some comments. Belle looked back at them to listen to what they were saying, and then she chuckled--she CHUCKLED--and said, "Well, people talk." Gaaaaaahhh...
We have this theory that most of the women playing Belle onstage are the theatre divas who always get the leading roles and everybody gives them big bouquets and showers them with compliments and praise...and so they don't really relate to Belle's situation at all. They're basically the theatre Gastons. But since I've never talked to any of them in person, it might just be a cruel theory. (Thinking about it, back when we first fell in love with Beauty and the Beast, we were only ten, and we had our sisters and cousin Jonathan, so we didn't really relate to Belle at the time, but it was only a couple of years later that we started feeling like outcasts (like Belle)...ironically(?) because we liked cartoons like Beauty and the Beast so much.)
On the other hand, the rest of the cast was pretty amazing most of the time. Most importantly, both Gaston and the Beast seemed to really understand their parts--the Beast especially. It was like he read the whole script and really understood what all of his lines meant and how they affected the Beast's attitude and character backwards and forwards from when each line was said. I don't know if that makes sense, but it makes sense to me, anyway. Alas, no Beast has ever managed to sing "If I Can't Love Her" more impressively than our friend Gaston, but his voice was nice enough anyway. And the emotion and physicality in his performance of it was solid (although they did have a bad habit of not really choreographing the solos).
And Gaston was a lot of fun. At first, we were like, "I don't know about this guy..." But he grew on us pretty quickly. The performance of "Me" was really great. I won't say perfect, because even though his excitement over coming up with the perfect vision of his marriage to Belle (right before he said "Picture this," he gasped like, "Oh my gosh I just had the best idea ever and it's super amazing and you're gonna love it so hard!") was adorable, we're still so confused by the fact that none of the Gastons we've seen onstage (our friend included...) seem to know the universal gesture for "picture this." Or maybe they do know it and think it's too cliched? But they're cliches for a reason! But seriously, though, it was great. He would keep pulling Belle closer to him, and she would find a chance to start walking away, but he always managed to keep a hand on her and pull her back in. ...It's actually a pretty terrifying situation to think of, which is actually a good thing (theatrically speaking), because Gaston is not supposed to be a good guy. ...It is good that she got away before he did anything serious, though.
This Gaston also understood that Gaston is not just a big goof the whole time--by the time the Mob Song started, he was definitely devolving into beastliness, as per Belle's line, "He's no monster, Gaston! You are!" They had a part where he had his eyes locked on Belle and was advancing on her slowly, which made him very scary. If anything, I think he was a little too beastly, because he growled like 60% of his lines in the Mob Song, and we wanted to hear his beautiful singing voice. The melody was calculated to be threatening and scary, so don't gild the lily, dude. (To be fair, that might have been the director's choice. To which I say, "Don't gild the lily, dude.")
The supporting cast was generally pretty amazing. Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts were all fantastic. La Madame de la Grande Bouche (the Wardrobe) was a lot of fun. LeFou was great. It was mostly a very very good cast. And the costumes were amazing!! I especially liked Cogsworth's, but Lumiere's hair was one of my favorite things. It was a wig in the style that was "the mode" back then, only it was a slightly orange color and the front part of it was teased up to look kind of fiery. It was awesome.
And we can't forget the Silly Girls! Oh my goodness, they were amazing. In "Belle" (the song), there's that part where Belle sings how this part in her book is so amazing, and in the movie she sings it to a sheep to emphasize that she has no human friends so she'll literally talk to anyone or anything that will listen, but here they didn't have sheep, so she was talking to a random townsgirl who stood there and listened politely. But as Belle got to the end of her solo, the Silly Girls came along and pulled the townsgirl away, with an attitude of, "Oh honey, you do not want to hang out with that girl, come with us, we'll make it all better." I mean, it's horrible, but very much in character. The way they fawned over Gaston was so perfect. And at the end of "Gaston" (the song), they had a great end pose with Gaston and LeFou, and my biggest regret from the entire show is that I did not take a picture of it. (Photography was allowed as long as you turned your flash off. I took a bunch of pictures during the first act, but during the second act, it had gotten darker (it was an outdoor theatre) and I didn't want my phone distracting the people behind us too much.)
And I think that covers it. It was a lot of fun...but the show always makes us feel a little melancholy. We focus a little too heavily on the line in "If I Can't Love Her" where he goes, "No point anymore..." Especially because we went to Anime Expo and didn't have any super amazing life-changing experiences, and all our attempts at making stuff happen in the last several months fell through, and blah blah angst angst. So we were feeling some ennui about that and praying for help...
...and the very next day, Netflix had more episodes of Miraculous! So we were extra grateful in addition to the massive excitement we were already feeling. These last few days have been pretty great.
Today I'm thankful for getting to see a pretty good show of Beauty and the Beast, getting to see the nice costumes, getting to see the really nice park in our town where we even have an outdoor theatre, getting to re-watch season three episodes of Miraculous, and fixing my iPad so I can download things from the iStore again.