by Rebecca Halat
As a youth, Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite movies, so the child in me was very excited to be able to see the Orpheum’s production, bringing my old memories to the stage. This performance certainly matched my expectations, and I was reminded of what a pleasure it is to be entertained in such a grandiose way. Large musical and dance numbers, streamers flying into the audience, and exaggerated characters all made this a fun show.
Going into the performance, as adults, most of us understand completely what we’re about to see, at least plot-wise. The innocence of my childhood gone, I see the story more clearly, both the positive and the negative. Disney likes to teach lessons in its tales, and Beauty and the Beast is no different. We learn that being unkind to others has negative consequences, we learn that mob mentality is not always accurate, and we learn that if a woman is a prisoner, she just might fall in love with her captor—and to expect this of her is perfectly reasonable. Some great lessons for young children, others that might be less helpful. These are all known parts of the plot, and I do not believe should prevent young children from going—so long as there is a conversation afterwards with adults about what this story offers.
While I knew that the story was not a terribly feminist one, I had forgotten about the character of Gaston. His character stands out as making a mockery of traditional masculinity, while the women who run around, falling all over him, do the same for traditional femininity. I appreciated this aspect of the performance, which seemed accentuated from what I remember in the movie. Of course, the laughing at accidental same-sex romantic interaction is still present, but by pairing this laughter with singing and dancing, the production seems to be making fun of itself.
If you want to be entertained in Broadway fashion, Beauty and the Beast is definitely worth checking out.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Presented by Hennepin Theater Trust
Now playing through March 15
$29.00 to $134.00