Tag Archives: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

At The Movies: Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s new “Beauty and the Beast” is a lavish, lovely, expertly crafted movie with a first-rate cast, glorious music, imaginative set designs, enchanted special effects and lovely costumes.

All that talent, for something so utterly pointless.

Does the world really need a remake of “Beauty and the Beast?” Disney’s 1991 animated feature was near-perfect and the pinnacle of the company’s long string of great movie musicals. It even scored an Oscar nomination for Best Picture — not Best Animated Picture — we’re talking the real deal.

But memories are short, and after all it’s been 26 years, and it’s not like you can find the original at the library or on DVD. And there’s probably a lot of money to be made, and besides, Ian McKellen needs a job.

new-beauty-and-the-beast-poster-features-full-castYou know the story, right? Belle (Emma Watson) is a bookworm living in a small, provincial village with her father Maurice (Kevin Kline). Handsome, arrogant buffoon Gaston (Luke Evans) wants to marry Belle but she’s not interested. Gaston hangs out with his gay sidekick, LeFou (Josh Gad). LeFou being gay is apparently shocking to some people — people who didn’t see the original, I guess.

Somewhere outside of town there is a hidden castle, owned by a former prince who was cursed into beasthood by an enchantress. The Beast (Dan Stevens) could break the spell if he could find true love — but time is running out. The same spell that turned the prince into an upright horned buffalo also turned all his servants into household appliances and whatnot — Lumiere the candelabra (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth the clock (Ian McKellan), Mrs. Potts the teapot (Emma Thompson), her son Chip (Nathan Mack), Maestro Cadenza the harpsichord (Stanley Tucci), Madame de Garderobe the dresser (Audra McDonald) and Plumette the feather duster (Gugu Mbatha).

 

Belle winds up the Beast’s prisoner and eventually falls victim to love — or Stockholm Syndrome — but that’s not very romantic. Will this odd couple become a true couple in time to break the curse?  You know the story, right?

Like I said, “Beauty and the Beast” has first-rate production values and an A-list cast and all the movie magic Disney can pour into it. Three new songs have been added to the production but they don’t add anything special — you’re still going to walk out singing “Be Our Guest.”  They also tacked on some back story, although I don’t see how adding the Black Death to the tale improves it.

Anyway, if you loved the original “Beauty and the Beast” and always wished you could see it with live human beings and CGI characters, then you will probably enjoy this. It may be pointless but it’s still pretty good.

 

Dinner/Theater: Beauty And The Beast

Scheduling conflicts prevented me from attending the first two shows of the Fox Theatre’s 2013-14 season, so I was determined not to miss the third. The show was “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”

I was informed that Friday would be a special “Kids’ Night” with special activities before the show and an early start time of 7:30 p.m. (Hooray for early start time, 8 p.m. is too late to be starting a show for children and old people like me). However, I was warned this meant that we would need to get downtown earlier than usual in order to get a decent parking space.

No problem, we’ll just go down early and have dinner before the show. We had been wanting to try out the City Diner next door to the theater for some time. We arrived 2 hours before showtime only to find the diner filled with little girls in princess garb along with their families. Why did I not see this coming?

Across the street was a newly opened Dooley’s, which The Wife assured me offered good pub food. We crossed the street — same situation.

“Best Steak House?”

“Best Steak House.”

Crossing another street brings one to Best Steak House, the best steak house in St. Louis although I’ve never had the steak there (I always get the Gyro Plate). We used to go to Best frequently back in the days when we regularly did dinner-and-a-show, but had not been there in years. To no one’s surprise, it hadn’t changed a bit.

The line was also out the door at BST, but that didn’t matter because Best knows how to move meat and customers. BST is a cafeteria-style restaurant where you snake through the line and someone behind the counter yells NEXT! and you yell your order and get your tray and your food and find a seat at a table or booth in a place that doesn’t look like it has changed since it opened in 1964.

After about a half-hour in line we got our gyro plates (salad, gyro, fries/baked potato and drink), found a booth and enjoyed our meal. We would probably still be sitting in the waiting area at City Diner or Dooley’s in the time it took us to order and eat. We wondered why we ever stopped coming to Best Steak House.

After dinner we walked across the street to the Fox which by now was jam-packed with little girls in princess outfits and their families. There were various activity stations throughout the lobby but we couldn’t get close enough to see what any of them were about, so we found our seats.

Hilary Maiberger as Belle and the cast of Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  Photo by Joan Marcus

Hilary Maiberger as Belle and the cast of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
Photo by Joan Marcus

The show started promptly at 7:30 p.m. (Hooray for shows starting promptly at the scheduled time). I trust I don’t have to go over the story of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” for you. Based on the 1991 animated film, the stage production features wild, colorful costumes; enthusiastic, high-energy dance numbers; clever set designs and a talented cast belting out the movie’s classic songs as well as new material written for the stage.

The cast members were all equally enchanting, including Hilary Maiberger as Belle, Darick Pead as Beast, Kristin Stewart as Mrs. Potts, HassanNazari-Robati as Lumiere and James May as Cogsworth.

Unlike most shows, my heart will always belong to the villain of the piece — the self-centered he-man Gaston (Tim Rogan). Rogan and his pratfall-gifted sidekick Lefou (Jordan Aragon) steal the show for me.  Let everyone else have “Be Our Guest” and “Beauty and the Beast,” I’ll take the show-stopping craziness of “Gaston.”

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast runs through Sunday. http://fabulousfox.com/ 

Best Steak House is open daily. http://beststeakstl.com/