Tuesday, 13 January 2015 10:49

Disney’s Detailed Beauty

Written by  Allison Parker
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Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Miller Auditorium, Kalamazoo
Jan. 21-22, 7:30 p.m.
millerauditorium.com, (269) 387-2300

Some movies are all about the details, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is one of them. As charming as the storyline is, it’s the addition of luscious artwork, ingenious songwriting and intricate characters that elevates the film to a masterpiece. Just try rooting for the Beast and Belle without falling for a talking candlestick along the way.

With such intricate source material, it’s little wonder the Beauty and the Beast stage version bursts with special little touches that embellish its richness and complexity.

In addition to original film songs, the musical also contains several new pieces to flesh out character motivations. “Home” explores Belle’s feelings of isolation in her new surroundings, while “If I Can’t Love Her” elaborates on the Beast’s deepest fears. Meanwhile, the film’s lost song, “Human Again,” gives minor characters a poignant voice.

“[‘Human Again’ is] my very favorite part of the show, because it's where the enchanted objects finally have a glimmer of hope in returning to their human form,” said Patrick Pevehouse, who plays Lumiere. “The lyrics are perfect and heartbreaking.  I actually think it might be the best song in the whole score.”

By spotlighting the minor characters’ yearning for transformation, the musical also raises the stakes for the Beast and Belle’s relationship.

“The enchanted objects … add a sense of urgency to the story," Pevehouse said. "Their desire to be human again really comes through in the text, and it's a concept that anyone can relate to. They are truly the driving force for Belle and the Beast to fall in love."

Perhaps the musical’s most significant new embellishment to the ‘tale as old as time,' is the costumes. The enchanted objects’ attire is not hyper-realistic, but rather an imaginative blend that mixes historical fashion and character personality with object functionality. The result is characters that appear simultaneously more outlandish and yet more human than their film versions.

The costumes are gorgeous," Pevehouse said. "They have such a unique feel to them in that they appear to be period clothes that the character would wear, except they gradually become the shapes of the enchanted objects. My costume in particular is this gorgeous embroidered tailored suit. Then, at the end of my arms, the sleeve flairs out where my candle sits. My wig is a very period white wig that swirls up into a melting candle."

A final bonus to Beauty and the Beast's stage production is it does not forget the adults in the audience. While the musical appeals to all ages, it includes a surprisingly generous dollop of raunchy humor as an extra treat for its older fans.

“There's great goofy moments for the kids, but the heart of the story really hits adults," Pevehouse said. "Plus, I play Lumiere, and I can tell you the script is dripping with adult humor."

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