Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Sacramento Community Center Theater1301 L St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
If you’re looking for eye-candy entertainment and immaculately performed songs, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast won’t disappoint. But the touring production, now playing at the Community Center Theater as part of California Musical Theatre’s Broadway Sacramento season, skimps on substance, intellect and soul. That’s expected, of course: If any title begins with “Disney,” you know you’re in for a kid-pleasing fairy tale.
Beauty and the Beast originated from an 18th-century French fairy tale called La Belle et la Bête; there’ve been numerous other adaptations, of course, but Disney transformed the classic story into film in 1991and a Broadway musical in 1994. Six of the Oscar-winning songs from the film version are in this musical, as are six originals—all with music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.
Choreography, set and costumes (all 580 of them) are elaborate and dazzling. One of the show’s standout dances is an ensemble romp set in a tavern and featuring a mug-clanking routine reminiscent of the coconut dance, a Southeast Asian folk tradition. Throughout, singing and acting are near perfect, with Belle (Hilary Maiberger) and Beast (Darick Pead) leading an elite cast.
But for all its Disney perfection, there’s still something lacking. Yes, Beauty’s a sweet “happily ever after” type of story: Bookish girl meets cursed prince and needs to fall in love with him to turn him from a beast back into a prince. Hopefully it’ll make new young fans of musical theater. But it’s sort of like giving children candy in lieu of dinner.