The Disney musical, Beauty and the Beast, is an absolute treat to the eyes

first_imgIndian audiences haven’t been treated to Broadway and West End-style musical theatre primarily because Indian films have met our song-and-dance requirements, and money for a theatre is always hard to come by. But now, songs in Hindi films are changing. Having innumerable background dancers against an extravagant set or in a foreign location is no longer the norm. In such circumstances, to have a sizeable chorus line dance with joy, against a backdrop that would do Bhansali proud, is much welcomed. Disney’s grand staging of Beauty and the Beast, made with an Indian cast and crew, aims first to treat the eyes and then tend to the heart. It does the former especially well.For most part, director Vikrant Pawar  ensures there is never a dull moment.  Over 70 dancers occupy the stage, a few performing flips and cartwheels, often prompting viewers to quickly move their eyes from one corner of the stage to another, so as to not miss the action. The elaborate sets change at the speed of the light–one minute it is Belle’s village, a few seconds later, it is Beast’s castle–inspiring awe at the accuracy behind the consoles. As much as creative flair is on stage, this is technical expertise too, which requires the backstage crew to be as alert and top of their game as those on stage.The story is what we are all familiar with. Belle (Meher Mistry) is the beautiful young girl who, in order to rescue her father, gives herself up to the scary-looking Beast (Edwin Joseph), who unknown to her is actually a handsome Prince cursed for his bad behaviour. The only way he can break the spell is by finding true love. Time is running out for Beast, who finds himself falling for Belle and hoping that she reciprocates his love. Remember, this is a Disney production, inspired by the popular 1991 animated film, that goes all out to ensure you walk out happy.advertisement One of the reasons you do is because of the supporting actors, led by Bugs Bhargava as Cogsworth aka the grumpy clock, Brian Tellis as Lumiere aka the enthusiastic candle stick, Nisa Shetty as Babette aka the feather duster, and Varun Narayan, one of the two actors to play Gaston, the pompous guy who basks in his desirability among women and who wants to marry Belle. They all provide the laughs whenever the musical numbers are not part of the 130-minute proceedings.Of the 20 songs incorporated in the production, “Belle” and “Gaston” are the numbers that stand out, for they offer the right balance of three disciplines: acting, singing and dancing. Joseph certainly has the best voice of the leading cast, and his rendition of “If I Can’t Love Her” marks a memorable moment for the show. “Be Our Guest” is the crowd-pleasing number where the Beast’s castle comes alive and the sets and costumes become as important as the dancers.  As the leading lady, Meher Mistry with her charming presence and deft singing gracefully carries the production on her shoulders. Joseph doesn’t have the same charismatic stage appeal as her but manages to make his presence felt with his singing.Those seated near the stage can be surprised and a tad scared at the sudden arrival of a pack of wolves, like we were. The aerial move delivers the powerful start the show needs, as it draws a gasp as much as it silences viewers. Set decorator Varsha Jain makes great use of space and her work in “Be Our Guest” is especially noteworthy, so is Becket Tundatil’s work as light designer. Terence Lewis’s choreography has more showy moves than desired, and it didn’t help the dancers though high on energy were not always in sync.Is it worth the costly ticket price? Yes. For it’s a production which aims for the “immersive Broadway experience” and for a first-timer having a go at Broadway musical, it delivers. Beauty and the Beast will be staged on Saturday May 21 and Sunday May 22 at 2.30pm and 7,30pm at Dome, National Sports Club of India, Lala Lajpatrai Marg, Worli. Tickets are being sold on read more