Get lost in La Belle et la Bête’s stunning visuals created by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon at Toronto’s Luminato Festival
I was pretty excited to watch La Belle et la Bête: A Contemporary Retelling last night, especially since it is part of the dazzling Luminato line-up. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but it was definitely not what I expected.
This take on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast is nothing like the Disney film. It’s dark and enchanting and visually haunting. And it’s definitely not a kid friendly show.
I missed the opening scene as I ended up at the wrong theatre and had to wait about ten minutes to get in. As I waited in the lobby with about a dozen other people and listened to the audio feed, my anticipation just kept on building. When I finally walked in, the stage just blew me away.
The imagery is magical and the set spills off the stage and onto the walls around the audience. The actors interact with all the multi-media elements which are mostly 3D and absolutely breathtaking. The entire stage is made of screens that slide on and off and the scenes with the forest and the great castle are so real it’s hard to believe they’re made out of light.
There were a couple of technical glitches with the sound but it was opening night after all and I’m sure it’ll be fixed by today.
I have to say that I found the description of the show to be a little misleading. There is no music or dance that I could find in the show. It’s more of a dark drama with some comedic relief from time to time.
There are only three actors in this show but the one that stood out for me was Diane D’Aquila who plays the part of The Lady. She has commanding stage presence and her delivery is excellent. She nailed every evil joke and I noticed the audience perk up every time she was on stage.
Overall, I felt a little disconnected from the story and for some reason just couldn’t get lost in it the way I expected to. Maybe it’s because I found the story less than engaging and thought the actors got a little lost with everything else that’s going on. Nonetheless, this show is an experience and worth watching just for the effects.
The performance ended with thunderous applause which brought the actors back out onto the stage a couple of times. On my way out I heard people talking about the sheer beauty of the production. If you’re looking for a unique theatre going experience this is a show worth checking out.
– La Belle et la Bête is playing at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (27 Front St East) till June 12, 2012
– Performances run June 8 to 12 at 7:30pm with an additional matinee on June 9 at 2:0pm
– Tickets range from $49 to $99
– For tickets and additional information visit www.luminato.com
Photo by Yves Renaud