Random Notes, circa 2005

Of good mistakes and bad nostalgia

A cartoon convinced me. Disney's Beauty and the Beast is exactly the kind of entertainment I've publicly maligned for years: a corporate-inspired translation of a cutie-pie musical cartoon adapted from classic literature and peopled by actors dressed in character costumes that all but swallow their performances, which are anyway built on attempts to ape the motion picture line drawings that inspired them. But Phoenix Theatre and Valley Youth Theatre's co-production of Beauty and the Beast sold me on dorky cartoons as stage musicals.

Chorus boys galore get gassed up on Gaston in Disney´s Beauty and the Beast.
Chorus boys galore get gassed up on Gaston in Disney´s Beauty and the Beast.
Alette Valencia and Beth Froehlich shine in Stop Kiss.
Alette Valencia and Beth Froehlich shine in Stop Kiss.

The direction was topnotch; the production numbers big and showy; and many of the performances were first-rate. Robert Kolby Harper's Busby Berkeley homages and a kick line of dancing kitchenware (especially Joe Kremer's flamboyantly funny turn as a giant whisk) had me -- dare I admit this? -- laughing right in the middle of dance numbers. Which doesn't mean I don't think that the next time someone attempts The Lion King it'll wind up as high art. But in the meantime, my memory of this "tale as old as time" will keep me warm 'til next year.

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