Drury Lane's Beauty and the Beast revival is showing its age | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Drury Lane's Beauty and the Beast revival is showing its age 

An attempt both to transcend repetition and please audiences results in a show that won't fully satisfy anyone.

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Brett Beiner

The Disney folks are brilliant at repackaging. Hence a hit 1991 animated musical feature, with songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, about a bookish young woman who saves an enchanted prince by falling in love with him, has become an array of action figures, a line of clothing and costumes, countless fashion accessories, a 1994 live version for Broadway (with additional songs by Menken and Tim Rice), a "junior" version for high school and middle school productions, a 2017 live-action movie starring Harry Potter alum Emma Watson, and so on.

The current revival of the Broadway version at Drury Lane Theatre, directed by Alan Souza, tries mightily to transcend mere repetition of the familiar Disney schtick while also aiming to please audiences eager for more of the same old, same old. The result is a show that won't fully satisfy anyone.

Ryan Park's costumes evoke the look of the movies (and copycat stage versions) without slavishly recreating them. His costumes for human clock Cogsworth and pal Lumiere, the talking candelabra, are particularly inventive. But those he designed for Belle look drab, and the one for the Beast is beastly without looking beast-like.

It doesn't help that Erica Stephan and Brandon Contreras lack any chemistry as Belle and the Beast. I doubt audiences would notice their costumes if they really believed the two were falling in love. The only believable couple in the show is Nick Cosgrove's too tightly wound Cogsworth and Tony Carter's adorably flirtatious Lumiere. Every time they stepped on stage, I found myself wishing I was at a new, as yet unwritten musical, centered on these two.   v

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