They just don’t make ’em like they used to, eh Keats? Built in obsolescence means that $1,000 (or more) smartphones have scratched up screens within a couple of months and stop working altogether within a couple of years. A brand new car loses a huge chunk of its value the second you drive it off the dealer’s lot, and you’ll be lucky to make it through the five year/50,000 mile warranty before needing to buy a new ride. My parents still have the CRT console TV I watched as a toddler, but I’ve been through three flat screens in three years.
That’s why when you find something that delivers, year in and year out, whether it be a significant other, a pizza joint or a favorite sweater, you’ve got to hold on to it like Willie Wonka’s golden ticket or an honest, lobbyists-be-damned politician. BDT Stage has been putting on the hits for more than 40 years. I’ve been reviewing BDT Stage productions for 17 of those years, and I’m both happy and astounded to report that I have never seen a bad show there.
Beauty and the Beast continues BDT Stage’s prodigious winning streak. Boulder’s own mini-Broadway pegs the needle with this runaway, international hit. The Broadway production, which ranks as the 10th longest running Broadway musical in history, is based on the 1991 animated Disney film, which is, in turn, based on an 18th century French fairy tale, so if you’re a pedigree snob this is definitely the show for you.
From Trump’s presidency to King’s Landing’s fate in Game of Thrones, The Simpsons enjoys an uncanny, Nostradamus-like accuracy rate when it comes to predictions. From a pop culture perspective, you know you’ve made it when The Simpsons gives you a shout out. For Beauty and the Beast, that moment came when Monty Burns sang “See My Vest” about making a tuxedo out of greyhound fur to the tune of Beauty and the Beast’s most popular song, “Be Our Guest.” (Check out the hilarious clip on YouTube.)
If BDT Stage keeps it up, it may just earn its own Simpsons’ nod one day. Before Beauty and the Beast sounds its first note, the audience can tell it’s in for a treat. For the first time in a long time, if not ever, a full-length curtain hangs in a wide arc hiding virtually all of the stage. A stained-glass version of Beauty and the Beast’s famous, timekeeping rose is projected onto the curtain. As pre-show dinner is served, a petal periodically falls from the rose. That simple yet supremely effective bit of showmanship presages the wonders soon to fill the stage.
The first such wonder is Cole LaFonte’s transformation from selfish prince to angry Beast, which takes place in a quick change that would make Soul Mystique envious. To pull it off must have taken considerable effort on the part of Costume Designer Linda Morken, Prosthetics Designer Todd Debreceni and LaFonte. From there, the wonders never really cease. Lillian Buonocore, who last graced BDT Stage’s stage as Ariel in The Little Mermaid — be careful of typecasting, young Lillian, or you’ll be playing princesses until you’re 35 — plays Belle, and the strength and warmth of her singing voice once again demands notice.
In addition to taking on voiceover narration duties, Wayne Kennedy plays Belle’s father, Maurice, a moony inventor whose inability to follow a path through the woods lands him in the Beast’s dungeon, the lowest part of an exceptionally rendered, rotating, Gothic-arched castle set courtesy of Amy Campion. As most probably know, in order to save her dear old dad, Belle agrees to take his place as the Beast’s prisoner. With the help of the former house-staff-turned household objects, the clock Cogsworth (Scott Beyette), the candelabra Lumiere (Bob Hoppe), the teapot Mrs. Potts (Tracy Warren), her teacup son Chip (Markus Hollekim, Hayden McDonald, or Miles Shaw), and other decidedly animated inanimate objects played by, among others, Alicia K. Meyers and Danielle Scheib, Belle and the Beast realize their love for one another.