Disney’s The Beauty and the Beast is on tour and here now in Atlanta’s Fox Theater. This past Wednesday, I braved the bad weather and attended the show’s debut performance in Atlanta. Growing up my favorite princess happened to be Belle, the star of the show, so I sat with excited anticipation with the rest of the kid-filled audience as the show began.
True to the proclaimed Disney film, the show begins with the haunting scene at the Beast’s doorstep, wherein he is punished for being too superficial. The Beast is played remarkably well by Justin Glaser, who has been on national tour with Jesus Christ Superstar and Annie. Glaser’s most notable characteristic is his strong voice. I was almost taken aback at how deep and resonant his voice was; it fit the Beast perfectly.
The set was beautifully made with golden arcs embellished into the curtains, establishing the charm and elegance that one thinks of when thinking of the show. The next scene was a great crowd pleaser with lots of energy from the stage. Belle is introduced, as is Gaston.
Belle is played by actress Liz Shivener, who bears a remarkable resemblance to famous pop sensation Katy Perry. Ms. Shivener debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and has starred in the plays My Fair Lady as Eliza and The Sound of Music as Maria. She has a beautiful voice that fits her character Belle perfectly.
Gaston is played by actor Nathaniel Hackmann who has starred in Camelot as Lancelot, White Christmas as Bob and many others. Hackmann portrayed Gaston perfectly. He is a large guy and Gaston’s self-absorbed and macho personality suits him well. Other characters who were flawlessly cast were Lefou, Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, Cogsworth and Maurice (Belle’s father the inventor).
My favorite scene from the Act One was the famous “Be Our Guest” song performed by Lumiere and Mrs. Potts. There was energy, dancing and lights; the audience really loved it. I also enjoyed the transitioning of all of the dancers from plates to utensils; it was executed flawlessly by the dancers. This was definitely the highlight of Act One.
My two favorite scenes from Act Two were “Beauty and the Beast” and “Beauty and the Beast (Reprise).” “Beauty and the Beast” is the famous scene in which Mrs. Potts sings while Belle and the Beast enjoy their first romantic dance. It is in this scene where Belle looks beautiful in her iconic yellow dress and the Beast is dressed charmingly in his blue suit top. It is the scene where they dance in the magnificent halls of the Beast’s castle; setting the scene for one of the most famous film sequences of all time.
“Beauty and the Beast (Reprise)” is the epic finale of the show. Belle has broken the enchantment and the Beast as well as the rest of the castle has turned to human form again. This scene was epic because the company pulled out all the stops and everything about this scene was wonderful.
I recommend seeing Beauty and the Beast to everyone before it leaves. The dancing, singing, magnificent set pieces and music combined all make this musical a five out a five. The musical is true to the film in the character portrayal, songs and set. It is well worth the time and money spent.