Through the clever use of smoke and a large ornate rug, the Prince is transformed into the Beast in front of the audience. Next, the scene changes and you meet Belle as she walks through her village singing the title song "Belle," possibly one of the best songs in any Disney animated movie, and you learn that despite her good looks, she's considered a bit of an outsider, a dreamer and a bookworm.
The local girls all swoon for Gaston, excluding Belle.
She really IS a funny girl.
From there, a narrator explains how Belle ends up in the castle and you're treated to the famous dinner scene, with a good dozen or more performers, and then meet the Beast. Despite a few initially awkward moments, Belle and the Beast get along.
Belle's happiness is short-lived however, when Gaston, jealous that Belle doesn't return his affection, rallies some of the villagers in an effort to kill the Beast.
Ultimately, in a scene that's subtle and won't frighten small children, Gaston is defeated and the Beast, through Belle's love, is transformed back into a prince.
And, well, you know the rest: They lived happily ever after.
It may have been the cold weather, but there was something extra special about the performance I saw in early December. The performers, while always good if not excellent, seemed perfectly suited for their roles, particularly Gaston, who had an incredible voice. During the "Be Our Guest" segment, the dancers seemed to be adding their own little touches, fitting and not at all out of place, but different enough that if you've seen the show many times before, you'd notice.
It really added something to the show. I'm not sure if they've changed the choreography or not, but I really liked it.
But what made this performance extra special is the thing that I always say about Disney: That they just "get it," and in turn guests feel that difference, even if they don't expect it. Prior to the show I talked to the couple with twin daughters who were sitting in front of me. Hailing from Seattle, it was their first trip and, it turns out, it was pretty obvious they'd done almost no planning (I bit my tongue). As a result, they didn't realize what they were going to see and didn't even seem to care. As soon as the show started however, I noticed they were all literally sitting on the edge of their seats. At one point, the mom got a huge smile on her face and started spontaneously clapping right in the middle of a song. Seeing an adult who was previously not even interested in seeing the show start clapping like a small child out of excitement, well that just has a certain charm, doesn't it?
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage adds a lot to your visit to Hollywood Studios. Make sure you take an opportunity to see this wonderful performance. And as a mom of two boys, I say if yours won't go, make them. I promise they'll like it too.
The theater is wheelchair accessible and covered, so performances can continue even on rainy days. For individuals with sensory issues, the music may be a bit loud, but there are no loud booms or flashes that might disturb some guests; sitting in the back should help somewhat. During slower times of the year, show times begin at 11:30 and end around 5:30; during the busier season, expect shows to start at 10:30 and continue until around 7:00. Plan on showing up about twenty minutes prior to showtime for the best seats.