Lyrics by Howard Ashman & Tim Rice
Book by Linda Woolverton
Based on the original production by
Disney Theatrical Productions
Directed by Rob Roth
Choreographed by Matt West
Produced by NETworks
At the Oriental Theatre, Chicago
Improved non-Equity national tour of Beauty and the Beast is entertaining but far short of the original Disney production
I wonder why after a 13 year run and over 5,461 Broadway performances together with a stunning National Tour, the folks at Disney Theatricals would allow NETworks to produce a non-Equity national tour of Beauty and the Beast? I saw the terrible 2010 NETworks tour last year and wondered at that time why delude their fabulous product with young, raw and inexperienced actors? Disney wouldn’t dare mount this show in New York and Chicago should also feel offended by an $85 top ticket price for a lower cost show. Chicago deserves better. Search for discount deals for this show because with a few casting changes from the 2010 tour – this production is a pleasingly warm and worthy production!
Too bad this tour skimps on the sets and the smaller cast doesn’t dance nor land the big number such as “Be Our Guest.” Yet, Emily Behny’s Belle and Dane Agostinis’ Beast were terrific and believable as the pretty/ugly lovers. Now, let me state that most children and adults will find this production charming and quaint – and so did I. The material – the Menken score and the Ashman/Rice lyrics and the enduring fairytale about love, acceptance and friendship is so strong that it always finds the hearts of the audience. Anyone who has never seen the full-blown Disney Theatricals production of Beauty and the Beast, will wonder why I harp on this low budget production?
I harp because the Broadway In Chicago patrons have come to expect and are willing to pay premium prices for first-class, highly professional tours (which translates into a full union participation = EQUITY actors). To charge “Equity” prices for a non-Equity show just seems wrong. Discount are in order here. Secondly, why lower the standard and risk the loyalty of theatre patrons?
Enough said – back to this Beauty and the Beast. The material is so worthy and the cast’s lead characters are excellent that makes this show fine family-friendly entertainment. Let’s home the Disney folks stop deluding their products.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: June 30, 2011
At the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, Chicago, Il, call 312-977-1710, www.broadwayinchicago.com, tickets $18 – $85, Wednesdays at 2 & 7:30 pm, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 1 & 6;30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with intermission, through August 7, 2011