Beauty & The Beast.
A #theatretrip discussion by Kate O’Brien.
December is finally here. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I kicked off my festive season early last week as I went to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre to see the spectacular musical Beauty & The Beast.
I’ve been very fortunate as this year I was able to attend the theatre quite a lot. I have thoroughly enjoyed every musical that I’ve had the chance to see, however this #theatretrip was particularly magical.
I’m slightly biased as I have been a fan of Beauty & The Beast since I was a little girl, and I was even in an amateur production of the musical when I was in school and studying drama. The score is beautiful, the story is magical, and Belle is a protagonist who will always hold a special place in my heart.
I know that fairy tales often face criticism, and this story is no exception, however I’ve always appreciated the story. A spoiled, cruel prince is cursed to look as beastly on the outside as he behaves on the inside. Belle is a beautiful girl, but she is shunned by her village because she does not conform to their narrow expectations. Gaston is handsome (in a cartoonishly, conventional sense), he is a town hero, but he is vain, and cruel, and dangerous when he does not get his way.
It is a simple story really. It is an elaborate metaphor. The prince learns that he cannot be cruel, and in order to make connections with others and find love, he must be a kind, caring person who treats others with kindness and respect. Belle does not judge books by their covers. She does not judge the beast because of his beastly appearance, she rebukes his rude behaviour and mean attitude, and it is only when he begins to reflect and change his ways, does she begin to like him. Belle never conforms to what the villagers want from her. She does not sacrifice her independence, or her love of reading, she stays true to herself, and she meets someone who loves her for the person that she is. She stands up for her father, and for herself, and for everything that she believes in.
The entire story is told on a beautiful, bright stage, accompanied by lively dance numbers, and absolutely beautiful music. The score is fun, upbeat, and filled with so much love.
If you’re like me then I’d say you will laugh, and cry if you’re in the audience.
The music of Alan Menken pulls on the heartstrings, and the score is perfectly made up of the classic songs that we all know and love from the Disney animation, alongside some stunning numbers for the stage.
I want to mention three numbers in particular, but I am not exaggerating when I say that I really love the entire score, the overture alone fills me with excitement.
I have to mention Be Our Guest, If I Can’t Love Her, and A Change in Me.
In my opinion, these three songs are stand out moments in this magical show.
Be Our Guest seems like it would be an obvious stand out, but the number is truly fantastic. It is bright, it is joyous, it is an explosion of life, dancing, glittering costumes, and magic on the stage. Alyn Hawke was a spectacular Lumiere. He was funny, he was witty, he was engaging, and he brought this number to life. Be Our Guest is Lumiere’s big moment, and it is a song that everyone in the audience has high expectations for. Hawke delivers, as does the entire ensemble. If I had to use one word to describe this number, I’d call it effervescent. It was wonderful.
If I Can’t Love Her is one of my favourite songs from any musical. Ever. Full stop. It is absolutely beautiful. Hearing this song played live by the fantastic musicians made me cry, and Shaq Taylor was phenomenal as the beast. This song is about the beast losing hope, because the beast is questioning who can he love if he does not love Belle? She is a symbol of hope. She is someone whom he could have a wonderful connection with, but he fears she will never return his feelings. So he sings, he asks “If can’t love her, then who?”
It is a stunning song. It closes act one. It is a rousing piece of music. It is a song that builds, and builds, and that last note is so beautiful, it is sustained and then the stage plummets into darkness. It is one of the only moments in the entire show when the beast is on the stage by himself, and we as the audience are invited into his thoughts. He expresses himself so clearly in this song, and it is actually incredibly poignant. I adored this moment, and I wish I could see it again.
A Change in Me takes place in act two. It is a song that Belle sings. She is very self-reflective in this song. It almost mirrors If I Can’t Love Her as this song is like a musical monologue for Belle. She is talking about herself, and about how much she has changed since leaving the village. Her entire outlook has changed, she has matured, she has learned things about herself, and about what she wants. It is a song fuelled by self-belief and I consider it to be a song that highlights Belle’s agency. She knows who she is, and she knows what she wants, and she goes for it. Courtney Stapleton was a beautiful and charming Belle. She was passionate and full of life. Her voice was stunning, and I enjoyed her performance throughout the entire show, but this song made me say “Wow.”
Courtney Stapleton sang this song brilliantly. Her voice was smooth, and strong, and the notes she hit gave me goosebumps.
Honourable mentions – Beauty and the Beast (Tale As Old As Time) and The Mob Song.
I don’t think any moment is more magical than when Belle descends the staircase in her gorgeous, golden gown. She is glittering and dazzling, and I think everyone in the audience audibly gasped. The song Beauty and the Beast is simply charming, it is beloved, and hearing it sung so beautifully by Sam Bailey was particularly special, especially since the legendary Angela Lansbury has sadly recently passed. This song will always be a tribute to her. It was a magical moment. I felt like I was seven again.
The Mob Song is a fantastic song, as villain songs often are. It is steady, it is catchy, it is a perfect combination of very quick, very slick, bouncy words with sustained notes at the end of each verse. It is a great song when it comes to gathering a crowd and making them angry. It is a battle song. It is also incredibly revealing. “We don’t like what we don’t understand, in fact it scares us.” This line is so telling, it sums up the entire village and the ignorance of the village. They shun Belle because she does not conform, they hate the beast, because they automatically fear him. They hate anything they don’t understand, and Gaston rallies them to become an angry mob and fight anything that is different. Honestly the song has always highlighted mob mentality for what it really is – a prejudiced group banding together.
The song is great, and it really gets the audience ready for the climax of the show. I had to mention it.
The entire cast was amazing. Each and every member of the cast was fantastic. The show was full of life, magic, and wonder. It is no small task to deliver a show like this night after night, so I have to give the cast my full admiration. I love the arts. It takes time, effort, training, tears, and dedication to have a career in the arts, and casts bring magic to the stage everyday.
I also have to give a round of applause to the entire crew who makes the show happen. A huge amount of behind-the-scenes work goes into every show, and no show would be possible without the crew, but Disney musicals in particular are often larger than life.
The amount of costumes, props, special effects, and set pieces that have to be accounted for, while keeping the magic alive must be enormous. So, I want to take a moment to say bravo to the entire crew, and to the entire cast.
The show is running until January 8th, so if you get a chance to see it, do not miss it.
It is wonderful. Beauty & The Beast is a show that is fun, enchanting, bright, and full of heart.
It tells a story of two people finding themselves, and where they truly belong, and finding love along the way. It is a show about people finding their happily ever afters.
If you loved the Disney animation, you’ll love the musical. If you’re a Disney fan, you’ll love the musical. If you want a festive night out, you’ll love the musical. If you want a date night idea, you’ll love the musical. If you want to introduce your kids to the theatre, you’ll love this musical. I could gush about it forever, but I believe I have made my point.
It is a #theatretrip that you won’t want to miss.
One thought on “Beauty & The Beast.”
This musical is waiting too long to get back to the US- still hasn’t come back, and on my list of musicals I strongly want to see
It is such an enchanting, magical, and romantic musical