It’s a tale as old as time, but a heads-up before you take your Belle and Lumiere fan to this Broadway Rose production: it’s not that version of the tale.
Just utter “Beauty and the Beast,” and the child in your life (and probably you as well) pictures Belle in her provincial town, and later wearing that gorgeous golden gown and waltzing with the Beast. However, the Broadway Rose version is set in the bayous of Louisiana and has a “Cajun flair,” complete with Southern drawls sprinkled with a touch of French, spicy gumbo, a conjurer, and a pelican-chasing alligator. (But in a nod to what theatergoers probably expect, there’s a yellow dress for Beauty and a blue tailcoat for the Beast.)
In this version, Angeline lives with her father and her spoiled sisters (think Cinderella’s stepsisters). She spends her days with her head in a book and politely fending off a clumsy suitor who asks her to marry him at every turn. Life changes when her father runs afoul of the Beast, and Angeline selflessly agrees to live with the Beast forever, but not to marry him. Temperaments and hearts change in time for a happy ending, of course.
Young performers from Broadway Rose’s summer camps join the main actors on the stage in several song-and-dance numbers, and they do a good job. Angeline’s selfish and catty sisters steal the show (they even stay in character during the meet-and-greet afterwards), and the pelican and the alligator infuse the show with their dry humor.
The all-ages 50-minute production (no intermission) is probably best for ages 4–8. My 7-year-old (girl) really enjoyed it, but my 10-year-old (boy) thought it was OK. Some young viewers got restless during the slower parts. The show was entertaining, but watching Boudreaux’s persistence prompted me to talk with my kids about his constant proposals to Angeline. Parenting in this day and age led us to talk (again) about how no means no, even when the suitor seems sweet and is a bit hapless.
Beauty & the Beast has a limited run of July 11–14 at Deb Fennell Auditorium in Tigard. All shows start at 11 a.m. If you’re heading there from Portland, allow for at least half an hour to get there and park. Due to construction, the lot next to the auditorium has a limited number of spaces, so plan to park on the street and in nearby lots, each about a 5-minute walk away.
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