The spectacle begins before the actual performance does. As you enter the venue (Dome at the NSCI, Worli), the stage takes your breath away. It’s unlike anything you have seen before, at least in India.
It’s spread all around the stadium: silhouettes of forests, and sets of cottages, roads, church and public places that put you in the midst of Belle’s fairy-tale village. In contrast, the Beast’s castle initially bears the gloom of a Gothic horror setting initially, but it transforms gradually with the mood of the play. Touched by Belle, the dreary castle transforms to a palace of joy and delight.
One of the defining moments of the play comes as the beast rushes out of his castle to save the beauty from the wild animals in the middle of the night. Belle, the titular beauty, discovers that the beast has a human heart. True to Disney’s stories, Beauty and the Beast, at its core, is about the power of true love, and how it can redeem even those who seem beyond hope.
It’s a story we’re all familiar with, one we’ve read as kids. And one that, on Wednesday evening, for the first time in India, Disney brought to life with lights, sounds and effects so grand, you felt like you belonged in the fairy-tale.
It also sets a new standard in stage production. One that might be hard to replicate, but hopefully, should inspire other performers, and bring audiences back to live theatre venues.