Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Who Can Make Up These Endless Refrains As Gaston?"

Very many sugar-coated, cherry-on-top thanks to Amy for hosting this wonderful event known as Celebrate Musical Week and you can click here in this abnormally long link to visit Amy's blog and see the musical she's spotlighting this week.
I knew at some point during the week I'd have to post a review of the musical recording, and then came the complication of which one. I have listened to the entirety of both the Original Broadway Cast Recording with Susan Egan and Terrence Mann as well as the London Cast Recording with Julie-Alanah Brighten and Alasdair Harvey. And then I've heard a few songs from the Australian Cast which, many of you probably didn't know, starred Hugh Jackman (yes, Mr. 2012 Movie Jean Valjean himself) as Gaston. However, I settled with the Original Broadway Cast being as that was the first BatB musical recording that I heard.

1. Prologue (The Enchantress): The traditional beginning to BatB, with the story of how Prince Adam became the Beast. Does the narrator sound similar to the narrator from the movie? Yes? Well, it's the same guy - David Ogden Stiers, who, coincidentally, also voices Cogsworth in the film. I love the music playing in the background. Almost wish that there was a track you could get with just the music, and not wit the narrator talking over all the beautiful instrumentals. But the story he tells is fun to listen to. Mysterious.

2. Belle: I will admit that Susan Egan isn't my favorite Belle ever, but she does the job creditably enough, and besides, this song is never boring. I love the way the townspeople pop in with their "Bonjours!" and "This fish... it smells!" And I always laugh when the triplets scream, "Oh! He's so CUTE!"

3. No Matter What: This song between Belle and her father is one not in the movie, and it's one of the best from the musical, IMHO. It's sweet the way the two interact with a strong father-daughter relationship, not something you see a lot in Hollywood. Tom Bosley sings Maurice's part perfectly, and Susan Egan complements him nicely.

4. No Matter What (Reprise)/Wolf Chase: A short reprise by Maurice on his way to the fair, a rather funny bit, followed by the familiar wolf chase music from the movie.

5. Me: I've listened to this song I don't know how many times. It's a perfect portrayal of Gaston's character, and Burke Moses singing the proposal is epic. Honestly, I've loved every version of this song that I've seen. I really don't have anything else to say on the subject. You need to listen to it. 'Nuff said.

6. Belle (Reprise): Now we get to where I don't like Susan Egan very much. Paige O'Hara (movie Bell) made this reprise iconic in the movie (I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, anybody?), but I felt that Susan just... didn't get it. She's got a pretty voice, granted, but she seems a bit too heavy for my Belle. I will give her this: she spits out a good "ugh" after she sings "Madame Gaston, his little wife" though.

7. Home: Belle has traded places with her father and now is locked in the Beast's castle forever! What should she do?! Sing, of course. This is a musical, after all. This is a beautiful monologue on Belle's thoughts, all set to Alan Menken's memorable score. And she ends on a high note. *grins*

8. Home (Reprise): Short, but thoughtful, reprise sung to a forlorn Belle by the motherly wardrobe, who in the musical actually gets a real name: Madame de la Grande Bouche. Ain't that a mouthful?

Gary Beach and Susan Egan

9. Gaston: Who can do anything like Gaston? After this song, no one can compete with him! And with reason, too, for who would want to digest five dozen eggs? In the middle of the song is a rather long instrumental part where, I assume from the oohs and aahs, Gaston is showing off his matchless skills. Burke Moses seems to stick more ego into his performance than Richard White (movie Gaston) ever did, if that's possible.

10. Gaston (Reprise): "Lefou, I'm afraid I've been thinking." "A dangerous pastime." "I know." (I couldn't help it, folks! It slipped in!) This reprise is longer than the movie's, and my post's title borrows from this added bit, which happens to be some of the best lines EVA.

11. How Long Must This Go On?: Terrence Mann definitely captured the Beast's devastation and frustration. "Left me in this STATE!" Short, but powerful.

12. Be Our Guest: Just gonna say it here, peoples: Jerry Orbach is Lumiere forever and ever. Period. Gary Beach lends a fun atmosphere to his rendition, but he can't hold a candle to Jerry. Sorry, no pun intended. Nevertheless, this song is epic to listen to and a great favorite of mine. All six minutes and fifty-five seconds of it. Yes, it's extended from the movie by almost a full three minutes. I love having that much more Be Our Guest! Though, I'm still trying to convince myself that "diner" rhymes with "china." Oh, well.

13. If I Can't Love Her: I think I'm starting to sound redundant by saying, "Oh, this is another one of my favorites." But it's true! When watching the movie, I didn't get much from the Beast other than anger. Supreme anger. This song has Terrence Mann singing about his crushed dreams, his devastated state, and his hopes for a possible future. A great deal of the melody actually repeats itself in the historic Transformation scene at the end, so the tune many people should recognize.

14. Entr'acte/Wolf Chase: A BatB medley/overture of sorts for the intermission, although I can't see why anyone would want to go grab popcorn while this was being played by an orchestra (even thought I LOVE popcorn!).

15. Something There: I've always loved the Christmas-like chimes at the opening of this song, and this version doesn't disappoint. The musical includes the bit in which the Beast gives the library to Belle, although I think Terrence Mann may get a little too ecstatic about the surprise, as well as Mrs. Potts giving hope to her sad son, Chip. In the movie, the extended scene of Human Again (the following song) shows Belle reading Romeo and Juliet to the Beast, but in the musical they stuck this scene into this song and changed the book to King Arthur, a much better tale, IMHO. And I love how the Beast gives Belle that smug "Told you so," at the end.

16. Human Again: "Little push, little shove, they could whoosh fall in love!" The enchanted castle sings about the glories of Belle breaking the spell and turning them all back into humans. *ahem* Another favorite. And here, Belle also finishes reading King Arthur, and then asks the Beast for a second chance to be friends again.

17. Maison des Lunes: With evilly amazing harmony, Gaston, Lefou, and Monsieur D'Arque plot to lock up Maurice to get Belle to marry Gaston. This song has the uncanny ability to get stuck in your head. Fast.

18. Beauty and the Beast: The classic song and tale older than time. It starts out with a snippet of If I Can't Love Her, a touch which I appreciate as it reminds you of the Beast's hopes for the night. Mrs. Potts provides the vocals, just like in the film, although I think I prefer Angela Lansbury (movie Mrs. Potts) to Mary Millar (musical Mrs. Potts). Lumiere's and Cogsworth's "Dance with her!" always manages to give me the giggles.

Susan Egan and Terrence Mann

19. If I Can't Love Her (Reprise): The Beast has let Belle go back to her father, and he laments that he couldn't have done more, knowing that he will spend the rest of his days stuck in his terrible form.

20. The Mob Song: This song plays out differently than the movie version, but I like how they added the bit between Bell and Maurice, showing the father's determination to protect his daughter. And Gaston's Shakespeare reference "Screw your courage to the sticking place" makes me grin. Only Disney.

21. The Battle: Pretty much the battle in the castle set to music, only no one ever sings. It's funny to listen to the screams and moans of Gaston's men. "You look like you could use a good cup of tea." "Oh, thank you. AHH!" Oh, yes, and *wince* excuse Lumiere's French. Literally.

22. End Duet/Transformation: Susan Egan sings a short reprise of Home, begging him not to die and telling him that *boom* she loves him. Insert the epic and spine-tingling music. Then *poof* the Beast turns back into Princes Adam. There's not much more I can say, lest I detract from the amazingness of this song.

23. Beauty and the Beast (Reprise): A short, but epic (yes, that word again) reprise of the all-familiar tune, concluding the entire show in a glorious, happy ending. 

God bless!


  1. I need to watch more musicals. I will have to look into renting this one. I like the story of Beauty and the Beast, but didn't know they recorded the musicals onto video. (I didn't even know they'd done one for it...)

    1. Jack, I did this review based on the recording I found on Amazon (link: I don't know if they recorded it or not as a video as I've never seen one, but then again I've never really looked for it. Have to look into that, because I know I'd love to see it on a stage!