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Beauty and the Beast - the stage musical


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#1 CrimsonLine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 08:23 PM

I took my family to see a local high school's production of the stage version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast today. It was a fairly typical high school production - some excellent singing, some not so excellent. The costumes were rented from a company that supports this production across the country. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney animated film. I've seen it many, many times, and know it quite well.

So I was surprised to find that I like the additions that were made to the story for the stage version.

Throughout the production, there are lines added to the effect that the curse on the Prince and his attendants is progressive - that they are becoming less and less human as the culmination of the curse approaches. This worries them, and they long deeply, in the words of a great new song added to the repertoire, to be "Human Again." The Beast is becoming more and more Beastly. Cogsworth is becoming more and more clock-like. Lumiere worries that he'll melt entirely away. This theme adds a sense of urgency to the welcoming of Belle into their lives. In the movie, you get the sense that they have lived just fine since the curse was placed. If this Belle thing doesn't work out, they'll just go on attending to the Master. In the stage version, that's not an option. If the curse is completed, the castle will have nothing human about it - just a whole lot of inanimate objects, and a ferocious, angry, out of control Beast.

I also liked that there was an added emphasis - in the Beast's transformation - of his need not just to "learn to love," but to find forgiveness. It's not just that he lacks something - he's sinned, and needs absolution. In one poignant line, the Beast acknowledges that because he let Belle go free, now only death can free him.

Finally, I liked that Belle herself gets a stronger character arc in the stage version. As much as I love the stirring, fun introductory song, "Belle," with her wistful desire for "something more than this provincial life!" her disdain for the people of the town smacks of an uppity college student who returns home too good for the people she grew up with. The movie version of Beauty and the Beast doesn't comment on that at all, but in the stage version, there's a song where she acknowledges that there's been a "Change in Me," where she gives up her childish prejudices, and learns to love what's in front of her for what it is, not for what she wishes it could be.

All in all, the stage production is an even stronger and more powerful show than the movie - and that's coming from a fan of the film.

#2 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 11:13 AM

CrimsonLine wrote:
: This worries them, and they long deeply, in the words of a great new song added to the repertoire, to be "Human Again."

FWIW, this song was added to the film when it was re-issued in IMAX theatres in 2001 (and all subsequent DVD and Blu-Ray editions have given us the option of watching the film with or without that sequence). I believe the song had already been introduced in the stage musical prior to the IMAX re-issue, but prior to that it had originally been written for the film and deleted for whatever reason.

: In the movie, you get the sense that they have lived just fine since the curse was placed. If this Belle thing doesn't work out, they'll just go on attending to the Master. In the stage version, that's not an option.

Not quite; in the movie, there's a rose that's losing its petals, and if Belle doesn't fall in love with the Beast before the last petal falls, everyone in the castle will be stuck in their current form. (This sticks out in my memory because I'm not fond of "fall in love before the deadline" movies, but Beauty and the Beast works for me despite my resistance to that genre.)

: Finally, I liked that Belle herself gets a stronger character arc in the stage version. As much as I love the stirring, fun introductory song, "Belle," with her wistful desire for "something more than this provincial life!" her disdain for the people of the town smacks of an uppity college student who returns home too good for the people she grew up with. The movie version of Beauty and the Beast doesn't comment on that at all, but in the stage version, there's a song where she acknowledges that there's been a "Change in Me," where she gives up her childish prejudices, and learns to love what's in front of her for what it is, not for what she wishes it could be.

Interesting. I'd like to see this sometime.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 21 November 2010 - 11:13 AM.


#3 Ryan H.

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 12:33 PM

CrimsonLine wrote:
: This worries them, and they long deeply, in the words of a great new song added to the repertoire, to be "Human Again."

FWIW, this song was added to the film when it was re-issued in IMAX theatres in 2001 (and all subsequent DVD and Blu-Ray editions have given us the option of watching the film with or without that sequence). I believe the song had already been introduced in the stage musical prior to the IMAX re-issue, but prior to that it had originally been written for the film and deleted for whatever reason.

I've never seen the film with that song, but given that I haven't seen the film in what must be nearly fourteen years, that's not suprising.

#4 CrimsonLine

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 03:53 PM

CrimsonLine wrote:
: In the movie, you get the sense that they have lived just fine since the curse was placed. If this Belle thing doesn't work out, they'll just go on attending to the Master. In the stage version, that's not an option.

Not quite; in the movie, there's a rose that's losing its petals, and if Belle doesn't fall in love with the Beast before the last petal falls, everyone in the castle will be stuck in their current form. (This sticks out in my memory because I'm not fond of "fall in love before the deadline" movies, but Beauty and the Beast works for me despite my resistance to that genre.)

Right. But my point was, in the movie, you got the sense that life in the castle had gone on much as it always had, despite the enchantment. Cogsworth was still the head of household. Some servants still worked as cooks, the hat rack still worked as the Master's butler, stuff like that. They were clocks and candlesticks and pots, but they still did things and fulfilled roles. Stuck in their current form, yes. But not dead. In the stage musical, each character was becoming more and more an object and less and less human. Some objects had ceased being human entirely. And the Beast had become almost entirely bestial. The stage version gives their plight more urgency.

#5 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 09:00 PM

CrimsonLine wrote:
: In the stage musical, each character was becoming more and more an object and less and less human. Some objects had ceased being human entirely. And the Beast had become almost entirely bestial. The stage version gives their plight more urgency.

Ah, that DOES sound interesting. VERY interesting.