‘Beauty and the Beast’ makes audiences feel human again

Mark A. Philbrick
Lumiere and Mrs. Potts examine Cogsworth’s back in ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ (Mark A. Philbrick)

BYU’s production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” aims for audiences to experience the musical in a new way and meets high expectations well.

Before the opening night performance began, audience members were asked to take a moment of silence to honor the people of France. The performance was dedicated to the families and victims of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.

Although the costuming choices are different and the set is simple, it’s easy for audience members to use their imagination to see the classic Disney look.

Alex Diaz, a 23-year-old BYU student, said he loved the more realistic approach and could see the director’s vision clearly.

“I preferred it because I thought it was creative and allowed me to use my imagination more,” Diaz said.

The energy level of the performance was high and the audience could feel it.

Woody White, who plays Lumiere, said he felt the audience was very giving in their reactions.

“I think it went fantastically,” White said. “I love this show.”

BYU presents Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast.' (Savannah Hawkins)
BYU presents Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” (Savannah Hawkins)

The acting was phenomenal and the dance sequences brought the cast to life more than dancing cutlery could. Some audience members had high expectations and even felt the show exceeded what they were hoping for.

Provo native M.E. Hammond, 24, is a “Beauty and the Beast” fan and has been since she first saw the movie.

“I’ve seen the musical about 20 times and it’s basically the same every time,” Hammond said. “This was really refreshing and it was exciting to see it in a different light. It was more humanizing and I cared about the characters more.”

Hammond said she cared more about Beast this time because of the realistic way Johnny Wilson portrayed the character.

Emotions ran high among the cast members after the show as well.

Scott Whipple, who played Cogsworth, said he felt the cast was really focused and communicated well with each other on stage.

“It was a blast,” Whipple said. “We were all listening and reacting to each other.”

Over all, the performance was a success. There were a few mishaps with the Beast’s microphone, but they weren’t too distracting from the entire show. George Nelson, the director, had a clear vision and it shined on the BYU stage.

Tickets for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ are nearly sold out. The show runs Nov. 19 through Dec. 10. Visit arts.byu.edu for tickets and showtimes.

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