The enchanted tale of spells, beasts, and love took the stage in the form of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on Tuesday December 10 at the Music Hall in Kansas City. Originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions the play garnered nine Tony Award nominations, winning the Tony for Best Costume Design, and 10 Drama Desk nominations in 1994. Presented by Broadway Across America the non-equity production is part of the Kansas City Broadway Series.
Spectacular is the only way to describe the brilliant music of Alan Menken, lyrics of Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and choreography designed by Matt West that bring the mystical tale to life. Directed by Rob Roth the musical is a fairy tale of a prince turned into the beast, of the beautiful Belle who is taken prisoner by the Beast, and Gaston who wants Belle for his own wife (because she is the only one deserving of his love).
Hilary Maiberger plays Belle with great enthusiasm and an angelic voice that captivated the audience through the entire production. Her rendition of Belle holding a fallen Beast in her lap near the end of the second act pulls at the strings of the audience’s heart.
The Beast is a powerful frightening creature that demands obedience to his every word. Played superbly by Darick Pead though his early dialogue sounds harsh, angry, and unrelenting as he sings the desperation in his voice seizes the audience.
Jordan Aragon is magnificent as Lefou the sidekick to Gaston played by Tim Rogan. Aragon not only sings and dances, but also shows off a dazzling gymnastic talent as Gaston punches and throws him around the stage.
The show-stopping Be Our Guest sung by Hassan Nazari-Robati as Lumiere, Kristen Stewart as Mrs. Potts, and James May as Cogsworth with other cast members is one of the highlights of the first act and entire show. The vocalization of Beauty and the Beast by Mrs. Potts in act two is another that stays in the mind of the audience.
Illusions designed by Jim Steinmeyer are stunning and add to the mystique of the fairy tale. Especially notable is the Beast spinning in the air in the second act. Not to give away the outcome, this particular element of the production is fascinating and causes the audience to erupt with a gasp.
Beauty and the Beast continues at the Music Hall through December 15.