DISNEY'S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Linda Woolverton, directed by Robert Jess Roth, with Grant Norman, Danyelle Bossardet, Edward Staudenmayer and Jay Russell. Presented by Disney at the Hummingbird Centre (1 Front East). To June 10, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, mats Thursday and Sunday 1 pm, Saturday 2 pm, May 27 at 1 and 6:30 pm. $34-$77. 416-872-2262. Rating: NNN
after a couple of less-than-stel-lar touring musicals, Disney's Beauty And The Beast roars into town to remind us that theatre-from-a-truck can still work.Based on the brilliant animated film (nominated, remember, for a best-picture Oscar), it's less a complete reworking of the movie, like The Lion King, than a genre-hopping translation with a few added numbers to beef up the story and characters. You've seen the film, you'll like the play -- that'll be $70, please. This show is worth it.
Seven years after its premiere, the story, music and choreography still hold up. Book-obsessed Belle (an intelligent Danyelle Bossardet) is one of Disney's strongest feminist characters, while the songs are more tuneful than those from most original musicals.
The motif of turning butlers, cooks and valets into clocks, teapots and candlesticks remains highly imaginative and theatrical, and the set, including imposing columns and a 3-D-looking handpainted screen depicting a castle staircase, creates ambience efficiently.
The performances, too, are fresher than your usual what-city-are-we-in-now musical, with Edward Staudenmayer's Gaston and Jay Russell's Lumiere sparking a real sense of fun.