REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast

The Belle of the ball is in St. Paul: Beauty and the Beast is on Broadway at the Ordway! This Twin Cities production is truly animation brought magically to life, captivating children and adults alike.

The curtain rises to the colorful French countryside; this is Belle’s provincial town down to the last detail. Being Broadway, impeccable music, lyrics, and choreography is expected, but on this stage, there is something more.

For those familiar with the Disney movie, the storyline here mirrors the film: heroine Belle lives with her father Maurice. Both are considered odd: Belle with her nose always in book, Maurice building some contraption in his workshop. Dastardly Gaston wishes to marry the ravishing Belle; Belle finds the arrogant Gaston vapid and rebuffs his advances.

One rainy night, Maurice is lost in the woods, and seeks refuge in a castle. Residing there is a prince who has been cursed to live his days as a Beast, until he learns to love, and be loved in return. Convinced that Maurice has come to mock him, the Beast imprisons Maurice. Belle arrives in search of her father, and in exchange for Maurice’s freedom, Belle remains at the castle, a prisoner of the Beast.

Though the relationship has a rocky start, both Belle and Beast come to discover that they are more alike than different. Along the way, the other residents of the enchanted castle – Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Madame Grande Bouche – seem to subtly steal the show, along with our hearts.

So much about this particular production is memorable: the set design, the live orchestra, the expansive and diverse cast, the acting, singing, dancing, the impressive set design, the vibrant colors; there is also a certain je ne sais quoi. Perhaps it’s simply talent. Perhaps it’s heart. I like to call it magic.

At the end of the performance, rose petals fall from the Ordway sky. It must be magic.

Beauty and the Beast is playing at the Ordway in St. Paul until December 31, 2022. Tickets start at $50.
Review by Kavita Battula; photo by Dan Norman