In Becky's Words

I dedicate this site to my mother. She was a columnist and an author with the uncanny ability to find humor in the daily ins and outs of life. She faced every challenge with a witty optimism, including the cancer that ended her life too soon.

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Location: Boise, Idaho, United States

Saturday, May 20, 2017

This Belle Reminisces

I finally saw the most recent film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. I felt a little guilty that it took me so long to see it.

Most people expected me to rush out as soon as it hit theaters. But I didn't. I wasn't even sure until I was seated in the dark auditorium, slumped down in my chair, hiding under my hoodie, that I would see it at all.

For months, I couldn't go shopping without seeing toys from the new film adorning the aisles of the stores. I spent ten minutes standing in Walmart, sighing and staring at a weird Belle doll with a distorted Emma Watson-ish face.

I couldn't even make it through the movie trailer without ending up as a puddle on the floor.

Why, you ask, was I such a blubbering mess about this movie?

Present day: Waiting for the movie to start . . .

Once upon a time, I was Belle, although you wouldn't know it from all of the wrinkles on my neck and forehead.

I saw the cartoon in the early nineties with my family. The animation was considered cutting edge at time, with sweeping panoramas of the "provincial town," and the Beast's golden ballroom. I remember tearing up several times because of the beauty of the landscapes.

Every girl dreamed of being Belle, and over a decade later, I got my chance. I portrayed the headstrong, smart, well-read heroine, in the musical production.

Of course, the smart, well-read, headstrong Belle definitely paralleled me (ha ha!). But her story was similar to mine in another significant way. I was portraying a girl whose mother had died.

My own mother had passed away a couple of years earlier, and I could relate to the sense of loss and mourning that runs throughout the show. I can say with certainty that my performance in Beauty and the Beast would have been one of my mother's favorites.

Boise Music Week teamed up with Make-a-Wish, and I was "Belle" to some courageous children.

Back to my 2017 movie-going experience:

Many of the songs that were part of the theater version were not included in the new movie. It followed the cartoon closer than it followed the stage musical. However, there were Easter eggs to the Broadway production in the incidental music, most likely an attempt to pacify us theater nerds.

"Kevin Kline is Maurice?" I whispered when he appeared on screen. (My mother had loved Kevin Kline ever since his performance in Sophie's Choice.)

Then I swore.

"Don't swear in a PG movie!" My husband, Dan, hissed.

That's when I started to cry and never really stopped. It was sooo embarrassing.

LeFou was implicitly (or maybe more than implicitly) gay. Toward the end, the Wardrobe dresses some of the men as women, and one of them appears to be more comfortable with this identity. The Wardrobe (the wonderful Audra McDonald) waves and says, "Be free!"

Apparently, these additions have been a source of controversy, but I was like, "Go, Disney! Piss off those conservatives!"

"I was thinking about that whole 'Be Our Guest' scene, and Emma Watson probably had to sit there and smile at nothing," Dan said after the movie. "At least you had real people around you."

I made some wonderful friends, and, recently, I have had to say goodbye to some of my Beauty and the Beast friends.

Within the last two years, the gentleman who played Maurice, the orchestra conductor, the choreographer, and the music director, who was a bit of a mother figure to me since my own loss, all passed away.

Unlike Emma Watson during the "Be Our Guest" scene, I did have real people around me. People I truly cared about.

People I will never forget.

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