I will admit to plenty of trepidation. After wearing out the kids’ Beauty and the Beast video tape over the past twenty-four years (my son’s very first VHS), taking them to their very first Broadway show of the same name and then revisiting four times after that until the show closed in 2007, I didn’t want the story that my kids (and our entire family) grew up with to change. At all. And while there are still elements in the original I find superior, I have fallen in love; in love with the new score, with Belle’s sweet family, and the added dimensions of that rose. But most of all, this time, I fell in love with a Beast.
Mind you, he is at the beginning every bit as selfish and the cad that we already know Gaston is (and he’s far worse in this version). Fully lacking in empathy, this is a Prince in name only, and one that is completely deserving of the Enchantress’s curse. Are his many faults born out of indulgence alone? At last, this “tale as old as time” unlocks that answer and our hearts at the same time.
#1 Reason This Beast has a sad backstory.
Evidently there is a deep-rooted reason for the allegiance of his servants. Not only do we get a glimpse into Belle’s past, but we also see fleeting images of a family that once lived in Beast’s Castle; the portrait of lovely, sweet faced boy, a kind-looking beautiful mother, and a stern-demeanored father hangs near the Library. Mrs. Potts confesses to Belle that the Beast’s father was a cruel man who abused his boy after the death of his mother. Regretfully, the staff did not intervene then, but feels the duty to do so now.
I would argue that this is the deeper reason for the Beast’s “melancholy heart” and it pre-dates the Enchantress’s curse. Now we know why the Prince/Beast pushed humans away, and “never needed anybody” in his life. I have lived long enough to firmly believe in the power of redemption. You?
#2. The Beast is a cultured soul…
The Beast knows Shakespeare! And reads King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. His Library has clearly been put to good use in his years of captivity. Perhaps he has also been spending some time with Stanley Tucci’s harpsichord, for that voice of his will soothe any other savage beast in the audience. Dan Steven’s solo Evermore is a gripping powerhouse of a performance. For me, genius Alan Menken’s new song about truth and regret was the hit of the show. The Beast not only sang it, but emoted it with vulnerability and perfection. It brought me to fangirl tears.
Listen to a playful sample of the Beast’s singing chops.
#3. Azure Blue Eyes
And oh, those blue eyes peering out from under the fur. Perhaps Dan Stevens is this generation’s version of “ole’ blue eyes;” velvet vocals, with peepers that will melt your heart.
Tell me this Beast is not irresistible!! Will you be heading out to buy the deluxe edition soundtrack today? I promise, my boyfriend’s hit will be stuck in your head, “Evermore.”
But remember, claws out, I found him first.
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