It’s amazing how memories can be triggered. A signature scent that reminds you of your mama, a song that brings back all of those “first dance” lessons, a few photos that let a rush of emotions flood your body. And sometimes? Sometimes it’s a story.
Jillian Butterfield and the cast of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Disney’s animated film won over hearts, including my own, in 1991, garnishing two Oscars. The musical found similar successful momentum when it debuted on Broadway in 1994, and now local Tampa Bay fans of the enchanting version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will love the latest Broadway tour, on stage at the David A. Straz Center now through May 10 (this Sunday, a great Mother’s Day outing!). Following other Broadway tours like Cinderella and Pippin at the Straz, the scenes weren’t quite as grand or extravagant, although effortlessly converted by cast members and many times as part of the scene itself, and the engaging characters that pulled laughs from a sea of viewers, both young and old, seemed to make up for it. With an amazingly spot-on performance of Belle by Jill Butterfield, the audience had no trouble falling for her character and pitch-perfect sing-song voice over and over. Since the beginning of on screen life in the small French village (and I’m realizing that this may be where my love for all things French began), I’ve been a long-time fan of Lumiere, my other favorite character from the movie, and this performance was no different. He practically stole the stage with his saunter, strong accent, wiggling hips and setting aflame his candlestick hands and just the right time to draw laughs from an intrigued crowd. And did I just not notice back then or did I forget how full of innuendo the story is? It may be that the characters are played by people playing the part of inanimate objects which bring the suggestion to the forefront, or the fact that I can see it now and it’s been a long while since watching the animated version… as most with fly right over a younger audiences head.Something to be proud of for us locals, the show also features Tampa’s own actor Thomas Mothershed as Belle’s father, Maurice!
Cameron Bond as Gaston and the cast of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy