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'Beauty and the Beast' magnifies inner beauty in Disney classic

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Beauty and the Beast

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Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opened Dec. 12 at the Music Hall in downtown Kansas City to a near capacity crowd of excited youngsters of all ages and invited all present to sit back, enjoy, and, “Be Our Guest.”

Disney’s long running Broadway show, on tour throughout the country via Broadway Across America, stages the mega-hit show complete with all the lights, effects, color, sets, costumes and everything else that made the cartoon-turned-Broadway-live action-show such a crowd pleaser for decades. And, then there is the music. The story and the dance, and the music combine to make a show that pleases adults and children alike.

The show brings Belle, Gaston, Belle’s father, the Beast, Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Chip, and more loveable characters to life. The show-stopping musical numbers will keep all theatergoers engaged in Disney’s classic tale about finding inner-beauty even with the most horrendous exterior.

The story magnifies the idea that true love is blind and that inner-beauty wins out. The Beast, selfish, unrefined, angry, and enchanted by a witch’s spell needs to not only love but receive love as well, in order to break the spell on the castle. Acts of kindness help him overcome his obstacles. Belle, beautifully sung and acted by Hillary Mailbergher, brings a gentleness to Belle’s character and brings out the Beast’s best virtues. The Beast, Darick Pead, portrays a nicer beast with more humor and flair, in the road production. His voice is strong, pitch perfect, and a great compliment to Mainbergher’s soprano.

Gaston and Lafou create a great duo. Their chemistry goes beyond the scrip and they are good for a laugh. Gaston makes a great villain and Lafou a great side-kick. In this version, they are portrayed with confidence by Tim Rogan and Jordan Aragon.

Two other performers worthy of note are Lumiere and Cogsworth, Hassan Nazari-Robati and James May. They work well together and provide some mild adult humor to the children’s classic.

Opening night was not without problems, technical in nature. Some lighting needed fine tuning and the sound needs some tweaks as well. Small things like that can be fixed for subsequent performances. Some of the ensemble dancers were out of synch at times, but only someone looking for that would notice.

Overall, the show is a hit and audiences thundered their approval as they stood to ovate the performance. The show is wonderful for all ages. Beauty and the Beast never fails to entertain.

Beauty and the Beast runs through Dec. 15, and tickets may be purchased through the web site: theaterleague.com/kansascity/disneys-beauty-and-the-beast.

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