Beauty and the Beast comes to Victoria

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I took myself to the Royal Theatre on Thursday night to see Disney’s live production of Beauty and the Beast. Cheap tickets had come across via Chatterblock and so I jumped on board, buying a seat up in the upper nosebleeds. Fresh back from a trip to Maui (awesome!), I decided not to take my daughter and husband to the show just to save money. I thought the Beast might scare Chelsea, and the show started at her bedtime of 7:30 anyway. I didn’t think she could last.

But I did though. I got to the theatre on Thursday and went right up to my seat. I don’t think I’ve ever attended a live theatre production alone before, so it was weird to be solo at this kind of event! I found my upper balcony level teensy tiny seat (there is no way I’m ever buying up there again, my knees touched the seat in front of me and I’m only 5’9″), and squeezed into the people sitting on either side. I pulled out my mini iPad to help pass the time as I was about 20 minutes early; I’ve been reading the Twilight series e-books borrowed from the library on it and I’m on Breaking Dawn, I think the last book.

I looked up to the sound of the usher speaking to our sad little group at the top of the theatre, packed into the rafters above a slew of rows of empty seats. He explained that we could move down to the lower, empty seats at intermission if we wanted. But of course as soon as he left, people started moving down. Normally I’m quite the rule-follower but other people’s boldness caught on and I moved down to a seat in the lower balcony. It was 7:35 already and the show was already late starting, so who would be coming?

From the vantage point of my new, lower seat I looked around to see who was in the audience with me. A mixed crowd to be sure. Lots of adults, a few kids – mostly little girls dressed up like princesses. Theatre troupes should realize that a kids show should be held at 5pm or 6pm and maybe more people would come out…the 7:30 start time is too late for most, when you know your little one is going to be up until at least 1030, or maybe will fall asleep in the show. (Sometimes we eat dinner at 4:30 or 5 anyway!)

Anyway…on to the show itself! It was quite good, very enjoyable. The costumes were great, the sets were clever. They had these skinny guys dressed up like gargoyles to move the sets around unobtrusively and they would artistically arrange themselves back onto the stage after lithely moving things around. Belle had a lovely voice and was very believeable in her role, but I’m not sure I liked the character that played her father. Didn’t warm to him. The Beast was awesome, especially as he played the scenes where he was trying to get over his extreme rudeness and be polite to the forthright Belle, to try to win her heart. Very funny stuff. But I think the show stealer may have been the man who played the egotistical Gaston, who made me laugh out loud a few times with his antics. He absolutely looked the part, had a great deep singing voice, and strutted his stuff in such an over-the-top way – exactly what he was supposed to do in that role! It totally worked.

Although it would have been nice to bring my guy to this show to have a date night out, I’m still glad I took the leap and went on my own. We don’t get big, well known shows like this too often in Victoria, and I’m such a home-grown product of musical theatre that I just had to go.

Your little kids will not understand the entire show if you take them, as we all know that Disney stuff has nuances galore (and I heard one kid ask their parent in the dying scene what was going on), but I think they’ll really enjoy it if you take them. The Beast part will be scary for some (his growls do get pretty loud and there are some fight scenes and cruel behaviour) but the little girl who looked about four in the row behind me took it like a trooper and didn’t seem to be upset for long. But this is a show that’s great for adults as well, so don’t be afraid to go solo or kid-less – you won’t be the only one!

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