Review: Beauty and the Beast

Emily Behny and Dane Agostinis star.

3.5 stars

Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler, through Oct. 16.

Disney's Beauty and the


on stage at Clowes is an upbeat

version of the original fairy tale published in France in 1740. The surreal

setting for this production becomes an extension of Belle's reply to Gaston, "Some

people use their imagination."

Emily Behny, a 2010 Ball

State graduate portraying Belle in this new touring company, is perfectly suited

for the independent, feisty, book-loving character who is instrumental in

changing the Beast into a 'new, improved prince.' While Beast's physical

transformation erupts from something akin to resurrection pyrotechnics, Dane

Agostinis' emotional growth as Beast into Prince is well-developed with humor

and pathos in his relationships with the castle's servants who were turned into

"things" — a teapot, teacup, clock, lamp, chest of drawers and feather

duster — by the enchantress who punished the prince for his hard


In the tradition of all good

storytelling, Disney's original 1991 film team and its succeeding live stage

musical creators developed dimensional characters and a plot with many

different strands. It's a cliffhanger to the end. Will Beast learn to love and

thereby gain love before the last petal drops off the rose? Will Belle turn

back and tend Beast? Will the nasty villagers repent? Will Gaston 'get it'?

Will his sidekick LeFou survive Gaston's punchings?

Every cast member stayed focused

and delivered characterization with minute details of facial and body

expressions in addition to fine vocal and dancing.

If you've seen earlier stage

versions starting in 1993, you'll experience a different retelling because the

designers, choreographer and stage director, along with the actors, bring their

own personalities forward. The show-stopping "Be Our Guest" number zips through

an encyclopedia of dance genres. Overall, it's a campy version for current