Toni Braxton takes a turn as the star of Disney's musical

Four years into its run, Disney’s stage adaptation (music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice) of its 1991 film Beauty and the Beast is becoming a proving ground for Broadway divas in training. Last September Deborah Gibson stepped into the role of Belle, the provincial waif heroine who falls in love with a cursed, beastly prince. Now sultry R&B star Toni Braxton, who last made news for her well-publicized financial woes, is taking her turn in the role through February ’99. Beneath a sweetly bookish facade, the Braxtonized Belle is surprisingly feisty and full-voiced. Poured into body-hugging forest-frock confections, she’s a saucy, sexed-up Disney girl with ‘tude. Also new to the cast: Designing Women‘s Meshach Taylor as an entertainingly smarmy Lumiere, the dancing candlestick who seems to have arrived in France by way of Jamaica. Still, the show itself is candy-coated fluff and eventually the by-the-numbers lightheartedness becomes numbing. For kids: B+ For adults: C

Beauty and the Beast (live musical)
  • Stage