#Musical Monday Review #19 Beauty and the Beast

Overview: A selfish prince is cursed by a witch for not helping her. His curse is for him to be disfigured as a hideous beast, and all those who dwell within his castle are also transformed into animated household items until his 21st birthday. In town Belle is a normal girl who enjoys reading more than trying to attract suitors, so the other townspeople believe her to be odd. Her father is known as a crackpot inventor, and is believed to be the source of her weirdness. Gaston, local playboy and jerk, has set his sights on Belle simply based on her beauty. Spurring his affections, she focuses more on helping her father look after the farm while he goes to an investor’s convention. Belle’s father soon becomes trapped by the Prince and sends his horse, Phillipe to find Belle and rescue him. Gaston plans to have him committed once he is back in town, after Belle trades places with him. Once the beast has Belle, he tries to be nice but she only sees a kidnapping monster and he sees a stubborn girl. Over time they grow close and learn to love each other, but Belle has to leave to save her father from Gaston. Finding the beast is real and won the heart of Belle, Gaston leads a mob back to the castle in order to kill it. The house fights back, but the beast has been mortally wounded. With one kiss from Belle, the curse is broken and everyone lives happily ever after.

Opinion: Who doesn’t love a good Disney Princess Movie (DPM)? This one is my mom’s particular favorite. As a kid, I would watch it over and over but I can’t say it was my ultimate favorite. I do think it was my first DPM though.

It is a good story to learn that appearances don’t matter, don’t be selfish and that people are different. Then if you look past the Disney filter, things become a bit creepy. For instance, Belle has wicked sisters in the original and the beast allows her to go home for a visit as long as she is only gone a week. The sisters become jealous and try to talk her into staying longer, so when she returns the beast will (hopefully) eat her. Then there’s the witch cursing a boy of 10 or 11 because he wouldn’t let her into the castle. This why they invented “Stranger Danger?” It’s a bit excessive if you ask me. Disney covered it up by making it seem as if the boy was a teenager or so, but the original story says something about a ten year gap between the beginning of the curse and the time Belle goes to him. If the spell has to be broken by his 21st birthday, given the time gap, the curse began at 10 or 11.

While Disney tried to cover the creepy, they made it creepy by making the beast seem evil. In the original he was kind and giving to Belle and asked her to marry him every night, only to be turned down because she regarded him as a friend.

Back to the movie.

Being the practical child I was, Cogsworth has always been my favorite character. He is the one person that seems to make any logical sense as everyone else is trying to manipulate Belle or her father in the beginning. He was the voice of reason and I identified more with him then the others for that reason. Plus he was smart and because of him I wanted to learn more about the baroque period and have flying buttresses in my house.

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Before I reveal my favorite song, I’d like to rant for a minute. The Special Edition that was released in 2003, and the version I happened to watch for this post, irritates me. Back on the cutting room floor a song was taken from the film and released without it because it didn’t add to the show and just stalled the story line. When they released the Special Edition, the editors decided to add the song in order for the consumers to get more for their money. The movie was perfect with out the song “Human Again” and instead of just adding it as a special feature they put it on the main feature forcing you to watch it. I know it’s not that big of a deal but it is annoying to fast forward through it. Then I feel sorry for the little children who won’t be able to see the movie in all of its original glory, instead being subjected to the pointless scene.

Favorite song is ” Something There.” It’s a short song when they are starting to fall for each other. They are running around and playing in the snow, genuinely getting to know one another. It is such a sweet scene and the song is beautiful.

Favorite choreography has to go to “Be Our Guest.” One there isn’t much choreography to begin with and two it is just an amazing scene. Silverware, pots, pans and flower vases dancing and putting on a show for Belle for dinner.

Favorite scene is the battle at the end because I love it when the wardrobe let’s out a battle cry, jumps through the air and lands on a man who comes out dressed as a woman.

#Musical Monday Review #3: Shrek the Musical

Overview: Shrek is an ogre that just wants to live alone in his swamp. Lord Farquaad, is lord of Duloc and wants to be King, but in order to do so he needs to marry a princess. He also has issues with people who are different than him, and sends all the fairytale creatures to live in Shrek’s swamp. Princess Fiona, is his choice, the only problem (he knows about) is that she lives in a tower guarded by a fearsome dragon. In exchange for the deed to his swamp, Shrek is roped into finding the princess and bringing her home. With a talking Donkey along for the trip, Shrek rescues Fiona and heads back for Duloc. Along the way Shrek and Fiona start to fall in love, despite their obvious differences, but Fiona has a secret that keeps them stopping and making camp for the night. Trying to hide her secret, Donkey finds it out, and urges her to tell Shrek. She refuses, says some nasty things that Shrek overhears, and believes she is talking about him. Instead of professing her love, as he was about to do, he runs off and brings Lord Farquaad to her in the forest. The wedding begins, Shrek comes to his senses, wedding is crashed by him and other fairytale creatures and in the end true love prevails.

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Opinion: I must confess, Shrek movies are a guilty pleasure of mine in general. Throw a wonderful cast, and great music and of course I’m hooked! The musical really highlights the fact that real life isn’t always as perfect or pretty like fairy tales. Sometimes it is ugly, smelly, confusing, or down right mean. Prince Charming doesn’t have to be handsome and wealthy, as long as you make each other happy and want to share your lives together it doesn’t matter what you or they look like.

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The musical also supports the message that no matter how different you are, you should always be you. My favorite song would have to be “Let Your Freak Flag Wave.” The fairy tale creatures sing about being yourself and never being ashamed.

As you see from the video, it is a staged production, but it is still wonderful. I think that stage productions add a quality to the shows that make them more magical. Take the Pied Piper song, it would be a bit odd if small rats magically (without a fairy-godmother present) became big and started tapping on a movie version. On stage it works perfectly.

While the lessons it portrays are pretty heavy, the show is light and will keep you in stitches throughout the whole show. If you love the movies and are skeptical, the musical stays pretty much on the same path but of course somethings were added or taken away or done differently. Depending on how well it would or would not work for the stage. Plus we get to see insights into how Shrek came to live in his swamp, which is a bit heartbreaking, and we get to see Fiona through the years. We see her at three different stages in her life as she grows up in the tower waiting to be rescued. The lyrics are hilarious and the music is beautiful. We don’t get to see the band, but we can see the head of the conductor through the floor, I think it is poor placement but it works.