But a 20-minute clip of the show fails to do this production any sort of justice. Impressively staged by any standard, and ridiculously so in the limited confines of a cruise ship theater, this latest iteration of Beauty and the Beast stands upon Disney's previous go's at this classic tale.
Directed and choreographed by Connor Gallagher, the Disney Cruise Line's "Beauty and the Beast" is the fifth major iteration from Disney (by my count), following the 1991 animated film, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage on Disney's Hollywood Studios (which premiered along with the animated film), the 1994 Broadway musical, and the live-action film that debuted earlier this year.
This stage musical takes its inspiration from the live-action film, even though work on this show began before that movie was completed. Here is the post-show Q&A session with the production's creative team, which gets into their process in bringing this show to the stage.
The production uses LED walls on three sides to animate the stage, creating illusions of space and motion that should help make the show more accessible to an audience that's likely far more familiar with film than live theater. But the video never distracts from the actors up front. Nor could they, with a company this engaged and compelling.
I regret that I didn't find a cast list for the production, for the actress who played Belle owned this show throughout, supported by outstanding performances from Gaston, LeFou, Mrs. Potts, and Lumiere. Their performances deserve recognition, as do the dancers in the company who execute this show's always-engaging choreography.
The breakdancing by the "Main Course" dancer in Be Our Guest provided an obvious highlight, but Gallagher crafts thoughtful motion for his company throughout, from emphasizing Belle's isolation from people of the town in the opening number through to the battle at show's end.
The production offers the brisker pace of the original animated version along with some of the backstory from the live action film that helped plug some of the holes in the first version, without letting them slow the narrative as too often happened in that film.
DCL's Beauty and the Beast compares favorably with Disney's in-park, Broadway-style productions of Aladdin and Frozen at Disney California Adventure. I doubt that anyone not otherwise inclined is going to make a multi-thousand-dollar, three-or-more-days commitment to book a Disney Cruise just to see this show. But for someone who's been waiting for an excuse to sail, Beauty and the Beast provides a most outstanding one.
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