Thursday, May 10, 2007

Beauty and the Beast

Tonight was surreal.

I went to see Beauty and the Beast tonight. I did this because, just in case you didn't know, I have loved Belle since I was a very little child. I have always identified with Belle; I was the different one, I was the bookworm, I was the girl who dreamed of having adventures and who loved my father very much and who would love the Beast. I was, I am, I will always be Belle.

And so I heard that Beauty and the Beast was going to have its final run on July 29th. And I thought, there's no way. There's no way that I was in New York and didn't see this show and it's going to be gone from Broadway and I won't have seen it. No way.

So I went online and searched for tickets and found this tremendous discount and purchased tickets and got myself just about THE best seat in the entire house. Seat K105. Do you understand that? That's orchestra seats, center stage. Not too close to the front, not too far back, truly the best seat in the entire house.

So I walked over to the theater and read the legend on top, 'There is Magic on the Stage' and shivered appreciatively. And then I went inside and started walking toward the orchestra section but I go in to Aisle 3 and I need to go to Aisle 2. So I start walking over to Aisle 2 and then I freeze. I just stop in my tracks.

And I stare.

Because there's no way in the world that this man just walked into the theater; just walked out of my TV screen and into the theater. Because if this is the man I think it is, he is only my favorite actor from my favorite soap opera; this is the guy whose acting was the reason I started watching that soap opera, the person I obsessed over and whose life I learned about and whose principles I admire and who is truly amazing.

Right. So that's impossible.

And I quickly think to myself, "Is it him? Should I ask?" And he starts walking away and I follow him and say politely but excitedly, "Excuse me, but by any chance are you-"

And he turns around and says, "My name is Roger."

And I say, "You're Roger Howarth from As the World Turns." And I look up at him and say, "You're an incredible actor," and I am thrilled, just completely dazzled by the fact that I just met my dream actor. This isn't the guy who most people my age would want to meet, but I'd prefer meeting him over a hundred Hollywood stars. I really admire Roger Howarth. When he was originally cast in "One Life to Live" his character, Todd Manning, was a rapist and later on they wanted to "reform" the rapist and have the character he hurt fall in love with him again and he stuck by his principles and said no. In fact, the quote attributed to him is, ""When Todd Manning got rich and became Todd Lord, he changed from the dangerous, maniacal, homicidal, serial rapist into someone else. This new person was erotically charged. It's very clear in my mind that rape is a violent crime — not a sexual crime of passion.... I decided not to do a lot of press. When the Todd story was about an evil man perpetrating violence, it was a good thing because it brought the idea of rape to the forefront of people's psyches. But I couldn't, in good conscience, promote the story of Todd Lord, who'd become a likable character. People have come up to me and said, 'My 7-year-old loves you.' What do I say to that? I'm not going to tell them, 'Don't let your 7-year-old watch TV.' But I have to say, it's disturbing."

Anyway, I really admired him when I learned that about him- that he'd turned down the role and quit the part because he couldn't in good conscience act a rapist who was suddenly reformed and redeemed.

His acting is out of this world, completely brilliant.

Anyway, so he was there at the theater with a little girl, perhaps his daughter, dresssed in a Belle ballgown- she looked so completely sweet. And he bought her a rose and was acting so amazing toward her the entire time; you could see that he's a really caring father.

Okay, so then I thought my seats were upstairs, so after telling him that he is an amazing actor, I ran upstairs, where the usher told me that she really liked my skirt. Then she showed me where the ladies' room was, and then informed me that my seats were downstairs. I found my seats, looked up at the large purple screen with the logo of Beauty and the Beast, and saw that Roger and his daughter were sitting four rows in front of me. Since I didn't want to be a really annoying fan who bothers people, I didn't go up to him or bother him at all. After a while, though, he turned around, did a double take- he had assumed I had gone to sit upstairs- gave me this really warm smile and waved. It was the nicest thing, and I smiled back.

Excellent. Then came the actual show.

How to describe the show?

It was incredible. Out of this world insanely incredible. The sets are fantastic, gorgeous magnificent eerie castles and beautiful provinicial villages. Belle's voice is beautiful, she was beautiful and her acting was fantastic. She, Gaston and Cogsworth were amazing. I didn't much like Lumiere because he didn't have the proper accent, but Babette was coquettish and sensual just as she was supposed to be. There were two guys in front of me who were cheering for her the whole time; in the end, when she came out to curtsy and give a saucy little wave, they got up and starting clapping and whooping loudly.

But the sets, the sets! Incredible. There were so many of them and they were so well done. Everything real, gorgeous; this Broadway show has so many colors, so much glitter and beautiful, rich vibrant hues that any child and me especially cannot but be happy. I can't even describe how gorgeous the costumes were...

I didn't much like what they did to the Beast, but it wasn't his fault; it's simply what the musical calls for. I like the Beast the way he is portrayed in the Disney movie- dark, angry, violent, someone whose normal temper is frightening and who learns to control himself, to sacrifice, who learns how to give. I like the transformation, the change. In the musical, however, they toned it down a notch; their beast is much quieter, much more weepy and romantic and far less terrifying. It was a little odd to see how he did this scary whisper, "That is not a request" after telling Belle that she must join him for dinner- followed by roars and such. I prefer the movie, where he's banging down the door and shouting very intensely.

That being said, this Beast didn't thrill me as much as the one who played in the Steppenwolf version that I saw. That Beast was incredible; his rendition of "If I Can't Love Her" was heartbreaking. This Beast had a gorgeous voice but his acting wasn't comparable to the Steppenwolf Beast.

The sets and the costumes! Perhaps the best way to describe them is to reference that scene where Lumiere takes Belle to dinner, "Be Our Guest." They really did it. They had golden knives and forks and spoons (people, of course) and whisks and a sugar bowl and cheese and a rug- all these incredible colors and costumes, just out of this world. And the sets matched, of course- there was the Menu, the beautiful glittering table, making way for the dancing china dishes and spoons and even the realistic spouting of champagne from huge champagne bottles.

Or the last scene, where the Beast transforms into a man- they had these amazing blinding and blinking lights, gold and blue and silver and green and he was lifted into the air and the cloth around his body unwound just as in the movie; there was a massive flash and a blackout for a moment and then he had completely transformed into a human and was hanging in the air. The entire audience started clapping.

Our performance also had some funny moments. When Belle was wandering through the castle in search of her father, she calls, "Hello? Hello?" and a little toddler from the audience answered, "Heyyo?" The entire audience burst out laughing. It was hilarious and incredible and so surreal, being joined with so many people and having so much fun.

Dazzling, utterly dazzling. These rich, elaborate costumes; the colorful lighting, the extremely detailed sets- and I could see them because I was so close to the front! These massive gargoyle and eerily flickering candles and the insane costumes- just incredible. I have no words.

During intermission I got up to go purchase something- I wanted something as a rememberance of this event because Belle is so much a part of me and this was so completely amazing. So I went through the shirts and the keychains and I bought myself this glittering Beauty and the Beast t-shirt which has the skyline of New York aand the logo of the Beast with his rose- it was incredibly expensive, of course, but I didn't care; it's so much me and I so want to remember this night.

The lady was really nice...and then I went back to sit down and I saw that Roger was back and I thought to myself, "Should I ask him? Should I ask?" and then I thought, "Darn, I don't have a pen!" because I'd taken my new purse so I didn't have a pen. So I ran back up to the lady at the cashier selling the shirts and bracelets (by the way, the $20 child-sized children's bracelet fit me, but I decided that I didn't like it enough to buy it) and I breathlessly asked her, "Can I borrow your pen?"

And she looked at me and decided I was trustworthy and said, "But only if you bring it right back..."

So I raced down the aisle to Roger (this was after I had already donned my sparkling Beauty and the Beast t-shirt) and I say apologetically, "Can I be awful and ask for your autograph?"

And he says, "It's not awful" and looks very sincere and takes the pen and the piece of paper I proffer him and asks, "What's your name?" and I say "Olivia" and so I now have this autograph:

And then I again manage to tell him that he's an incredible actor; there's so much else I would have wanted to say but I didn't want to bother him or invade his privacy more than necessary. So I smiled at him and said "Enjoy the show!" and he said "Thanks," and then I went back to my seat and I was glowing; you have to imagine me being tremendously happy, so utterly and completely happy.

And I watched the rest of the show, which was incredible of course (I love the Maison de Lune scene- especially the lighting; Gaston's pants seemed to be all red velvet and I really love that evil song...hehe.) The special effects for the last scene on the rooftop, the confrontation between Gaston and the Beast were amazing. One thing, though- I really wanted the Beast to be hanging over the balcony when he was stabbed, like he is in the movie, but they changed that, and made him seem a little too unhurt afterwards; he was able to climb right back into the balcony without being pulled up; I wasn't so happy with that. But the transformation scene was, as I said, amazing. I joined everyone in a standing ovation when it was concluded and then I came back to the dorm and raved about it to all my friends and family because the show itself was so utterly incredible and I got to see my favorite actor ever!

I can't even deal with this; it's too amazing. I'm on such a high, I am so, so, so happy. All these whirling, glorious rich colors are dancing through my mind; the incredible lighting and the incredible sets and the incredible costumes and Belle's incredible acting and now I just can't deal with it, I'm too happy and it's too wonderful.


Erachet said...

Wow. You are SO LUCKY to have met your favorite actor, not to mention having gone to a Broadway show! And in the middle of finals, too! Yay!

Beauty and the Beast was the first Broadway show I ever saw, my mom got me tickets for my tenth birthday, and it made a huge impression on me. I have excellent memories of that day. I remember being completely awed at the special effects, especially the way the Beast transformed into a person. I just could not understand how it was done! Of course, I was also only ten at the time, so maybe you were able to tell. I still can't imagine how they did it. He literally, I mean, I remember light coming from the various parts of his body and he turned from a beast into a man right there in front of everyone and, gosh, where did the beast part of him go?

I almost asked you if you were able to explain this mystery to me. Seriously. I typed it out and nearly hit 'publish your comment.' But then I thought for a moment and changed my mind. That day was so magical for me. I thought Broadway could do anything. I guess I'd just like to leave it that way and not know.

Btw, we should totally do these sort of things together sometime, seeing as we seem to like a lot of the same things!

Anonymous said...

Glag you had so much fun!

Ezzie said...

B&tB is an AMAZING show. :) (Soaps I can't say I care for...)

the apple said...

I remember feeling the same way when I saw my first Broadway show, The Sound of Music. Admittedly, the costumes aren't nearly as elaborate, but the sets were really amazing and the way that they moved around to show scene change was SO cool. The best part of it was that the curtain had a gigantic snowglobe on it with a little Swiss village inside, and as the orchestra started playing the overture, it began to snow in the snowglobe.

I was entranced.

Sad that Beauty and the Beast is ending its run. :( It's one of the shows I've always sort of wanted to see and didn't have a chance (when all the FTOCs came for the spring semester, I wanted to get on the bus to go but there wasn't enough room). Oh well - I can experience it vicariously through your account.

Holy Hyrax said...

soap operas????

psshhttttt hahahahahhaahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahhaa