Beauty and the Beast at the El Capitan

So I, along with the rest of the planet as it seems, saw Beauty and the Beast this past weekend. Unlike many of the planet, I was lucky enough to get to see the film at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, aka the home of all Disney movie premieres. I love going to the El Cap and I try to see as many Disney movies there as I can. The theater itself is historic and beautiful, and they always have awesome costume and prop exhibits, along with pre-movie entertainment. My thoughts on the movie are coming in just a few minutes, but first, I wanted to share with you some highlights of seeing BATB at the El Capitan.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into the theater (I literally stopped and said, “Oh my God”) is this amazing Swarovski crystal curtain designed just for Beauty and the Beast. Pictures cannot capture the dazzling effect of this curtain. It sparkles and shines and changes color with the lights and it is absolutely breathtaking. Seriously, I need one of these in my house. It’s amazing and you have to see it in person to really appreciate it!

Before the movie begins, there is a short projection show on the curtain, displaying some imagery related to the movie.

And as always at the El Cap, movie goers are treated to a half hour of organ playing from award-winning organist Rob Richards. For BATB he took us through several Disney movies, ending with BATB’s animated counterparts Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Lion King.

In the basement of the El Capitan is a display of costumes and props from the movie. These were some of my favorites:

Cogsworth costume and prop…

Belle and Beast costumes from the ballroom scene…

Lumiere costume and prop…

Steins from the tavern scenes…

And the famous rose (this one can be found in the theater lobby)…

Of course, the main attraction at the El Cap is the showing of the movie, Beauty and the Beast. I had some hesitation about the film going in, mainly due to the fact that I have been burned by some movie musicals in the past. Honestly, I’m glad I did have some hesitant feelings because it meant that I wasn’t disappointed. Let me be clear–I loved the movie. Visually, it is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. If they don’t win every visual effects and cinematography award out there I will be shocked. It’s breathtaking. I also LOVED the additions made to the story (which I won’t detail in case you haven’t seen it); I thought all of the added information made sense and helped answer some questions left by the animated film. Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou were the highlights for me, along with the fab Audra McDonald as the wardrobe (who in this version gets to sing, which is awesome). Dan Stevens as the Beast was also good, as were most of the supporting players.

So for the real question plaguing all of us musical theater peeps: How was Emma Watson? Love you girl, but she just didn’t do it for me musically. Belle is not an easy part to sing, and it was clear that Emma just doesn’t have the chops. I loved her acting performance and I loved the feminist angle that I’m sure she helped influence in the film, but she’s just not a great singer. What bothered me the most was how much you could tell they had altered her singing. It sounded false and kind of electronic. I also did not like how they seemed to use the same effects in some of the other songs (like “Be Our Guest”) thus making amazing singers like Ewan McGregor sound not as good as he should have. Really, Emma’s singing was the only thing about the movie that I didn’t love and I kind of got over it after the “Belle” reprise (where her lack of vocals was most glaringly obvious). But I would have preferred to see one of the many actual talented stars out there from the world of Broadway in the role. Let’s put it this way: I would not go out and buy the soundtrack from the film, I would much rather listen to the Original Broadway Cast recording.

I don’t want to end on a sour note, because I really did love the movie, and I will probably see it again in the theaters. This is a film that needs to be seen on the big screen, and I honestly don’t feel like anyone could leave the theater after seeing it and feel disappointed. I’ve been to a lot of midnight showings/opening days, and I think there was more enthusiastic applause at the end of Beauty and the Beast than I have ever heard before. If you are in the LA area, I highly recommend taking a trip to the El Capitan to see BATB, but if you’re outside of So Cal, any movie theater showing is totally worth the price of admission.

Have you seen BATB yet? What did you think?


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