We put up with the overpowering music, the bad sound, the scrims that at times unnecessarily blocked our view of the action, and the somewhat jarring choreography of the puppets because we were enjoying ourselves. The children sitting to our left and those behind us knew the story inside out and were having the time of their lives.
The cast was incredibly talented. Jillian Butterfield’s voice was perfectly suited to Belle, and Emily Jewell (Mrs. Potts) and Kelly Teal Goyette (Madame de la Grande Bouche) were superb. Jewell was given the coveted theme song to which the audience openly sang along, and Goyette tantalized us with her exquisite range. Ryan Everett Wood (Beast) made the man next to us weep in sympathy, and Patrick Pevehouse (Lumiere), Samuel Shurtleff (Cogsworth), and Melissa Jones (Babette) made the little girls two rows in front bounce in their seats with laughter.
During the second half of the show there was an audible gasp from the couple behind us. We turned to see them both leaning as forward as possible with their faces in their hands and tears streaming down their cheeks. It was both comical and lovely for what that said about their experience.
The cast was wonderful but it was Cameron Bond who stole the show with his relentless, consistent, energetic, and charismatic portrayal of Gaston. Bond was dialed into his character and it resonated wildly. His mannerisms were a perfect blend of subtlety and brass he held us in his hands throughout the entire performance.
The choreography was resonant of 1950s Hollywood musicals (the beer stein piece was especially fun) and the costumes were colourful and elaborate. The set design and blocking had their challenges but were still quite well done.
At the end of the evening there was no mistaking the reception of the show. The crowd cheered for their favourites, as they ran out to take their bows, and once the entire cast was on stage they were given a raucous standing ovation.
Beauty and the Beast opened at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre last night to a sell out crowd, and runs until February 8.
Click HERE for tickets and information.