As I mentioned earlier this month, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast musical is currently making its way across the nation. I was fortunate enough to catch the opening night performance at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music, where it will be enchanting audiences from now until February 21. If you’ve never had the privilege to see this stunning interpretation of one of Disney’s most beloved animated films, now is your chance. Yes, I know, the thought of humans portraying household objects and beastly creatures on stage is a bit hard to visualize, but believe me, when you add a bit of Disney’s magic to “a tale as old as time,” the end-result is nothing short of spectacular. And not only is this specific cast beyond amazing, but many of the original Broadway creative team members have reunited to collaborate and add new whimsy to the show, making it even more incredible.
This cast did an awesome job bringing the story’s animated characters to life and even gave them a bit more depth, allowing us to easily connect and relate to the challenges they faced. Sam Hartley was absolutely wonderful as the Beast. I thoroughly enjoyed the childlike traits he brought to his character, bringing new life and personality to the Beast. Sam is a very expressive performer and his beautiful voice perfectly showcased the abundance of emotions the Beast was experiencing throughout the show, especially at the end of Act I, during “If I Can’t Love Her.” It seriously gave me chills, and it would be awesome if they could release an addendum to the original soundtrack, just so Sam can sing this song to me in the car every day.
Brooke Quintana was equally incredible as Belle. I really loved the confidence she brought to her character. She was definitely a feistier version of Belle, which I thought was fabulous and added a modernistic aspect to one of Disney’s most beloved princesses. Brooke has a gorgeous voice. The song “Home,” in which Belle expresses her feelings of being torn away from her provincial life, is one of my all-time favorites and Brooke’s version is by far the best I’ve ever heard. I absolutely love the operatic nature her voice brings to this song; it adds a different element and takes it to a new level. I’ll take an addendum to the original soundtrack for this song as well, please.
The supporting cast was also fantastic. Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek (Gaston) and Matt Dasilva (Lefou) were definitely crowd favorites. Their hilarious interactions with each other kept us laughing throughout the night, especially during the amazingly choreographed number, “Gaston.”
Ryan N. Phillps (Lumiere) and Samuel Shurtleff (Cogsworth) were splendid as the dynamic castle duo. They were the perfect mixture of sass and practicality. They did a great job capturing the cat-and-mouse-like relationship we see throughout the animated film. Ryan N. Phillips was radiant as Lumiere. I adored his playfulness, especially when he interacted with Melissa Jones as Babette, the flirtatious French maid/feather duster. They had terrific chemistry.
Stephanie Gray (Mrs. Potts) was also delightful. Sam Hartley had mentioned in his interview, how wonderful Stephanie Gray’s voice was for the title song, “Beauty and the Beast,” and I couldn’t agree more. The shoes of Angela Lansbury are very hard to fill and Stephanie did a remarkable job making the song her own. The rest of the enchanted castle objects were also sensational and truly embraced the heart and soul of Disney magic, especially in the showstopper, “Be Our Guest,” and the very heartfelt number, “Human Again.”
Between the marvelous costumes, brilliant choreography, special effects, and captivating score, this show is guaranteed to fill your heart with Disney joy from beginning to end. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast musical is truly one of the most charming shows you will ever see. I mean, how could it not be? After all, “they can sing, they can dance,” and let’s face it, a Disney show is “never second best.” It is Disney storytelling at its finest and a phenomenal show to experience at any age. So, grab your family and find out when this spectacular production will be heading to your area. You won’t be sorry for going, I promise.