Beauty and the Beast in Concert: Social Media Recap

As you may or may not be aware, there was a pretty big screening of Disney's Beauty and the Beast at the Hollywood Bowl this past Friday and Saturday. I wasn't there, so I can't give you a direct account of the experience like I did with their Little Mermaid concert, but I can save you a few hours of searching through social media and YouTube videos by summarizing my own findings. If you're wondering why I didn't bother buying tickets this year, it was a combination having already experienced my favorite movie at the Hollywood Bowl and not wanting to see Zooey Deschanel attempting to recreate Belle's soprano. To be honest, I wasn't even aware that she could sing before the casting announcements for this event were made. If they didn't want to cast the original voices from the movie, why couldn't they just get Susan Egan to play Belle? It shouldn't count that she did it on Broadway since Norm Lewis reprised his Broadway role as King Triton at the Hollywood Bowl when I went for The Little Mermaid.

One of my biggest priorities in experiencing the concert vicariously through other people was finding out what sorts of fun activities they offered fans at the event. Most of the articles I found only summarized the concert itself and told me things I already knew, like who performed which characters. For what I was looking for, I needed to turn to the magical land of Instagram under the hashtag #beautyandthebeatinconcert. I was pleased to learn that the event gave fans lots of terrific photo opportunities including three different scenes containing life-sized cardboard cutouts of Belle and one with Lumiere and the dancing dishes. That was far more impressive than The Little Mermaid concert I attended, which offered only one photo op with a cardboard Ariel, one with Ursula, and one sitting on a rock surrounded by fish from the end of the "Under the Sea" sequence. Here, fans had a chance to stand in the library alongside Belle reading a book, sit next to Belle on the fountain while she continued reading the book, or snap a photo in the ballroom alongside Belle and Beast in their signature outfits. I would have loved to be in one of those photo ops if I had the chance.

This concert did take advantage of the half-dome shape of the bowl a little more than the one I attended. Instead of projecting colors and lights onto the dome to enhance the movie, they had a team of artists animate extensions of the sets shown on the screen to surround the outer edge of the bowl and make the world of the film look even bigger. A lot of the promos for the event boasted that they had animated "90 minutes of new footage," but I think that's a bit of an exaggeration, as watching a YouTube playlist shot from a good angle reveals a lot of still background art in the projections. That said, it's still a neat little bonus. Another thing that was different in this concert than the one I saw is that the "bonus" songs just showed the performer on all three screens, whereas The Little Mermaid projected concept art from the making of the film during the additional songs from the Broadway play. Compare the screenshot below of the performance of the song "Evermore" from the Beauty and the Beast concert to a picture I took of the performance of "If Only" from The Little Mermaid concert. Personally, I prefer looking at concept art over domed background extensions, but I suppose it's a matter of preference.

As for the performances I watched on YouTube, everything was about as expected. Zooey's rendition of "Belle" was a bit odd. Not only could she not quite reach the high notes, but the audio seemed to keep switching back and forth between the spoken lines from the film and the singing from the performers. You can see what I mean below. On the other hand, Rebel Wilson looked like she stepped right out of the cartoon in full cosplay as Le Fou! It was a very lively performance. One of the biggest highlights of The Little Mermaid concent for me was the talented violinist who came out during the act break dressed as Ariel intricately playing the film's score. This show doubled the fun of that performance by having two violinists--one dressed as Belle and one dressed as Beast! It looks like it would have been a lot of fun to see in person.

Overall, I'm not super bummed about having missed out on this concert, but there are a few experiences I think I would have really enjoyed, such as the photo ops with the life sized-Belle cutouts. Most of the performances look just so-so. While the background projects are kind of cool, I don't think it would have been worth going out of my way for. It was a lot of fun looking at other people's pictures on Instagram, though. The fans seemed very excited for the show, and some even dressed up! I think I'll just stick with my wonderful experience from The Little Mermaid concert from a few yeares ago.


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