Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" @ Paper Mill Playhouse - New York City Article

Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" @
 Paper Mill Playhouse

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Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" @ Paper Mill Playhouse

Jun 5, 2019

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”
The Paper Mill Playhouse
22 Brookside Drive
Millburn, New Jersey (973 376-4343)
Through July 3

In 1991, Beauty and the Beast was the second film in the Disney animated musical renaissance, and then only three years later it became the first Disney property to become a Broadway musical. Of all the incarnations of said property, the Broadway version is the strongest musically, mainly because composer Howard Menken keenly appreciated the differences between the various mediums, and, accordingly wrote a dozen or so extra songs specifically for the stage version, all of which are as good as the four classic numbers in the animated original. If the 2017 live action adaptation is a disappointment, it’s because they missed a great bit in ignoring all those wonderful Broadway songs just crying out to be included. (In fact, when I watch either of the movie versions, they both seem strangely incomplete - the Beast doesn’t even get so much as a single solo number. Make your blood boil, well I should say!) As everyone knows, the piece itself is a familiar fairy tale set in a magic castle with enchanted silverware (which somehow seems very French) and is often classified with the long line of Disney “Princess” stories, but enlivened, in all of its incarnations, with a considerable amount of Broadway pizazz, vaudeville shtick, and color and spectacle galore. Yet underneath, it’s a very moving tale of transformation, redemption, and salvation, a tale in which both love and humanity itself are not qualities to be taken for granted, but which must be earned and bestowed upon the worthy.

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)