Beauty and the Beast

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Beauty and the Beast

Post  operafantomet on Sat May 21, 2011 7:42 am

Caught the next-next-last performance of "Beauty and the Beast" in Rome. I saw ads all over the city telling that one could get good tickets for as little as €29 for the last week. I didn't even know BATB played in Rome, so I stopped by the theatre (not far from the Colosseum) and got a ticket for the Saturday matinée.

Apparently the Italians are now getting a grasp of the musical genre. BATB played one year in Milan before moving to Rome for a one year long season there. I noticed "Flashdance" also played in Rome, and "Mamma Mia!" is due this autumn. But what was fun about BATB was that they bought the grandious opera tradition into it, and the audience was SO responsive. They applauded when the lights went down, and when they thought anything was impressive on stage, and if anyone were particularly good there were lots of "BRAVO!" from the auditorium. The people on stage of course responded to this in their acting and singing, which made the show electric. Such an experience, and such a contrast to polite Scandinavians and withholding Brits.




Another fascinating aspect was that even though it was encouraged to respond, people (both adults and children) were not allowed to talk or make noise during the performance. There were lots of ushers, and they went around shushing. Which at first felt very odd, I mean shushing other peoples children, but boy did it improve the theatre experience. Italian ushers to the world, now!

As for the actual musical.... As others I love the Disney movie, and the stage version sticks close to it. I must admit there's only a handful songs I find good, but the story is beautiful, and visually there's a lot to gorge in. I won't do a scene-by-scene review, rather give some random comments. I'll even avoid the many Phantom parallelles...


TEATRO BANCACCIO, ROME, MAY 7th 2011, MATINÉ

BELLA: Arianna
BEAST: Antonello Angiolillo
GASTON: Andrea Croci
LUMIERE: Emiliano Geppetti
MRS. BRIC: Maria Maddalena Adorni
DIN DON: Simone Leonardi
MAURICE: Francesco Maria Cordella
LETONT: Roberto Giuffrida
BABETTE: Alice Mistroni
MADAME DE LA GRANDE BOUCHE: Gabriella Zanchi

MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Andrea Calandrini


OK, basic plot: Young beauty lives with father. Gaston wants beauty, but can't get her. Which makes him want her even more. Deep in the forest, a beast lives in a castle with a spell on it. Father of beauty ends up here by mistake. Beauty sets out to save him, and agrees to stay with beast so father is freed. Father tries to tell the village, but no-one believes him. In the mean time, beauty dislikes beast, but is treated well by his servants, who, because of the spell, appears as furnitures and items. And beauty starts to see beast's tragedy. They start respecting eachother. Beauty is freed, and tells villagers that her father didn't lie. Villagers and Gaston sets out to hunt down the beast. Because of love there is a happy ending.

First, let me gush about the costumes. The costumes! What do you get if you combine full-blood 18th century style with Disney? Italian BATB. Cone shaped corset/bodices, proper underskirts, polonaises, Habit a la Française basis for Lumière and Din Don, buckle shoes... At one point Belle even wore a silver Robe a la Française. And the fantasy costumes were all so delicious. Costume designer Miguel Angel Huidor sure knows his trade. I think the same costumes has been used in Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, but don't quote me on it.

Belle was played by Arianna, apparently a bit of a pop star in Italy. She was exactly how you'd imagine a pop star in the role: very good belting voice, sweet appearance on stage, but she lacked the finesses. She's done many musicals in Italy, though, and at no point did I think she was bad. I liked her, and I loved her cheeky moments. If I remember correctly, her Belle wore four dresses: the blue everyday one, a silver Robe a la Française, the golden "classical" dress, and a wedding dress reminding of Christine's rooftop dress (whoops! A Phantom reference...). I loved all of them, but the blue one stood out. Tabbed cone shaped corset-bodice with pink front lacing, bell shaped skirt with BEAUTIFUL embroidery around the hem, a white embroidered apron, as well as a white decorated shirt underneath. When she danced, the skirt revealed lots of white underskirt. LE DROOL!

Her golden dress was also fantastic. It reminded of Glinda's bubble dress in Wicked, but of course in golden/yellow, and with a more historical bodice and "torn" lace engageants. And lots of glittering sequins and beads in the lace overlayers. Probably the prettiest version I've seen on stage.




The Beast was played by Antonello Angiolillo, and although he had some excellent moments as the beast in agony he didn't stand out all that much. The guy who stole the show was Andrea Croci as Gaston. Holy Moses, he rocked the stage! He had such a deep voice and when he sang higher notes, he had so much volume. It was awesome to listen to. He was also the perfect Gaston in terms of acting, and I got the feeling most in the audience rooted more for him than the Beast... You could say he was a lot more of everything: he was very tall, had a very deep voice, and he took his role further than the others on stage. At first I was a bit surprised of how sexually explicit he was compared to your general Gaston, but he never crossed the line. And it IS Italy, after all.




The story was told to the full. The jolly parts - especially the chorus numbers - were very jolly, while the scary parts were very scary. The scenes with the wolves in the forest was eerie, as they had dancers in raggy clothes and glowing red eyes creeping around on the misty floor. Impressive. My only complaint would probably be that the story was too little Beast and too much Belle and Gaston. This is a balance Phantom does better (whoops! Another Phantom reference), because although the Phantom barely is on stage, Raoul never steals his thunder. But I think it's a weakness of BATB's staging rather than in the actor.

All the servant roles were well played, with a special mention of Lumière and Grand Bouche. They got lot of laughs, and the latter had quite an operatic talent. And how I loved the servant costumes! It looked like the designer had taken a basis in a Rococo garb and made a furniture/item out of it, rather than the opposite. The costume of Mrs. Bric was especially impressive, ditto for the many details of Lumière's costume, and how well the pyro worked.



I haven't mentioned the sets. Mostly because they were "meeeeeh". Not bad, but left something to be desired still. The village was cool, but the Beast's castle had a bit dubious solutions. But all in all, a very good production, with some outstanding cast members, and the best costumes I've ever seen for BATB. And because of the overall atmosphere, I rank it high on my list of great theatre experiences.

Leaving the theatre I accidentally passed the stage door, and there were HUGE crowds of people there. I decided to join and stagedoored like crazy. Ha-ha! As it was a matinée some had kept their makeup for the evening show, so they were easy to recognize, but I must admit I still had a hard time telling some apart. Got the signature of Beast, Lumière and Grand Bouche, but alas I missed Gaston. It was nice to be able to tell how much I appreciated the performance, and it was cool to hear several of them say that they were SO sad to have to say goodbye to their roles, after performing it for two years. Well, it was quite a goodbye. BRAVO!

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

Post  ML6 on Sat May 21, 2011 4:42 pm

This is one of the Disney musicals that I like, but at the same time I don't. The original writer of the film did the script for the show and I think the comedy bits she added were a bit... too comical? The film had a right balance of comedy and drama. Then again, I'm basing it on the dinner invite scene. The way they make the beast sashay down the stairs and then ask Belle to go to dinner is just too comical for me. But I *adore* the library scene. I think I didn't care for the addition of Human Again in the film, but I adore the version that is in the stage show.

My favorite songs they added to the show were 'Me' and 'A Change in Me'. What were your favorites?

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

Post  operafantomet on Fri May 27, 2011 6:12 am

ML6 wrote:This is one of the Disney musicals that I like, but at the same time I don't. The original writer of the film did the script for the show and I think the comedy bits she added were a bit... too comical? The film had a right balance of comedy and drama. Then again, I'm basing it on the dinner invite scene. The way they make the beast sashay down the stairs and then ask Belle to go to dinner is just too comical for me. But I *adore* the library scene. I think I didn't care for the addition of Human Again in the film, but I adore the version that is in the stage show.

My favorite songs they added to the show were 'Me' and 'A Change in Me'. What were your favorites?
As parodic as it might be, I love the theme song. I love the fact that it's not one of the leads singing it, while all the focus still is on them.

And I totally agree about "Human Again".

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

Post  Raphael on Fri May 27, 2011 4:18 pm

Musical theatre in Italy? I didn't know they did that! Looks fantastic, though Smile BatB is a favorite Disney film of mine, but I've never been able to get past the suspension of disbelief it takes to sell a human-sized teapot live onstage.

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

Post  Vicomtesse de Chagny on Sat May 28, 2011 10:26 am

I saw the musical in Copenhagen some years ago and absolutely loved it! Talented cast and gorgeous costumes! It's so the main reason I'm biased towards costumes used in Det Ny Teater's productions. I didn't like Gaston's gloves so much but other than that gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I just can't say it enough how much I loved the visuals of the show. bounce cheers bounce

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

Post  phantomphan1992 on Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:27 am

I saw this in Fort Worth back in April. So. Good. The actor who played the Beast was amazing. There were times when his acting completely broke my heart and other times when he had me rolling with laughter. But he conveyed the struggles of the character so well, I was rooting for the Beast even when he was still supposed to be the bad guy. I must say, though, as far as vocals and comic timing go, Gaston was far and away the best. The actress who played Belle was good, though her voice was a little nasally at times. All in all, I think this show ranks just below Phantom as my all-time favorite.

One thing about this particular production, though: they removed "No Matter What" (but left in the reprise) and "Maison des Lunes" (which happens to be one of my favorites). In the end, it really didn't make much of a difference to me, but at the time it was pretty disappointing.

On a side note, it was my first time to see a show in that particular venue, and I absolutely loved it there! It was much more intimate, and the sound system was infinitely better than the one in Dallas. Not to mention, downtown Ft. Worth is much more scenic than downtown Dallas.

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

Post  LadyCDaae on Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:15 pm

One thing about this particular production, though: they removed "No Matter What" (but left in the reprise) and "Maison des Lunes" (which happens to be one of my favorites). In the end, it really didn't make much of a difference to me, but at the time it was pretty disappointing.

That's a shame. "No Matter What" is one of my favorite songs from the show, probably because it reminds me so much of my own dad.

~LCD

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

Post  Guest on Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:36 pm

Raphael wrote:Musical theatre in Italy? I didn't know they did that! Looks fantastic, though Smile BatB is a favorite Disney film of mine, but I've never been able to get past the suspension of disbelief it takes to sell a human-sized teapot live onstage.

TAFKaR

Just think of her as a hot water heater....Totally works then. Wink

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

Post  operafantomet on Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:12 pm

Three minute promo from the Italian production I saw in May:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpM9LhpMFRQ&NR=1

LUV.

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

Post  MaryMillarFan1 on Fri May 03, 2013 9:01 pm

Of course, the best ever Mrs Potts was the gorgeous and multitalented Mary Millar (original West End Mme Giry). Here's a fab pic from the original London cast soundtrack liner notes Smile

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Re: Beauty and the Beast

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