There must be more than this provincial life! We all know the opening song from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, but I doubt you’ve ever seen it done quite like this. Actor and director Mary Neely brought new meaning to the phrase “quarantine creativity” with her one woman production of “Belle.” The song from the lead character takes us through Belle’s everyday life—a life she is ready to leave in the past. And Neely positively nails her re-creation.
and now, for the finale, my magnum opus: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST part I pic.twitter.com/R37J7nF5Cw— MARY NEELY (@mneelzy) April 23, 2020
Broken into three glorious parts, we start in a pretty yard with some Beanie Babies as farm animals when Neely steps into frame as Belle. The song begins, and so does the beautiful chaos that is her self proclaimed “magnum opus” production. Neely not only plays Belle, but all of the townspeople, Gaston, and LeFou. It’s magic. She also seems to have filmed the entire show herself. Her costume closet is clearly plentiful, as she dons a new wig and new outfit for each character—even if they only have one line. There are no small parts, only small actors after all.
Neely, lip syncing over the 1991 animated version of the Beauty and the Beast song, uses her apartment and surrounding neighborhood to really capture being in a town. What was it like to be around other people? You almost forget about shelter in place orders with the amount of characters she plays. After she, as Belle, has an exchange with the bookstore owner, she decides on a copy of Seventeen magazine featuring Paris and Nicky Hilton—a classic choice—and heads outside to her complex’s fountain. When she’s discussing the “book” she points down to a carefully placed quote in the magazine and it’s almost too good. Paris Hilton is quoted saying, “People think I’m stupid. But I’m smarter than most people.” Amazing.
At the end of Part Two we meet Gaston and LeFou, and boy, what a treat! She captures them both pretty perfectly. With every single character making an appearance, the journey ends with a Brady Bunch style framing so you can really see just how many wigs and costumes went into making this delightful idea.
Beauty and the Beast isn’t her first time performing like this. Since the quarantine began, Neely has put her own spin on other musicals such as Wicked, Sweeney Todd, Grease, The Phantom of the Opera and Spring Awakening among others.
Featured Image: Disney