My 5 year old daughter is obsessed with the new (2017) version of "Beauty and the Beast" and we are listening to the music non stop for weeks and albeit being a musical grouch it really grew on me.

One thing keeps nagging on me though and drives me insane. In the quiet fantastic "Be our guest" even I get a lot of influences from older Big Band Jazz and Broadway tunes. There is one particular sequence near the end of the song where after a chorus crescendo(?) the tempo suddenly winds down and then immediately start rising again with very punctuated vocal and orchestra strikes. Here you can hear the exact piece in question:


I'm absolutely sure I have heard this type of break many times before but I can't find another instance nor do I really know what to look for.

After this long explanation here my actual question. Has this musical construct a name? What are other (famous) songs that use it? In addition I would be thankful for pointers to other musical reference in this song.


Classically speaking, this is an ritardando, a gradual slowing of the tempo or more specifically, an allargando, which additionally implies an increasingly broader, more stately sound, followed by an accelerando a tempo, a quick return to the original tempo. There's a much more subtle variant of the same technique employed at the end of the introduction, and in general, the tempo is frequently altered for effect throughout the piece, including rubato sections where the tempo is freely played with, and cadenzas where the main piece halts to allow a brief solo. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo#Terms_for_change_in_tempo

I'm not aware of any other term for it specific to musical theater, although you are correct that it is a common musical trope, often associated with a kickline (I'll try to find an example if I can). You can hear it again in another popular Disney tune, "Prince Ali" (from Aladdin), as well as in the Sinatra classic "New York, New York".

As you pointed out, the piece is a virtual compendium of techniques and tricks to overwhelm the audience, and bring them to an emotional high point. That's pretty par for the course for Disney --subtlety is not their strong suit.

  • 1
    Cabaret from 2:30 onwards. Liza Minnelli even performs a kickline all by herself. Typical for a Vaudeville finale, although strangely enough I'm also having trouble finding other examples.
    – Draakhond
    Jul 19 '17 at 21:03
  • @Draakhond Thanks! I could have sworn "One" from Chorus Line had one, but the tempo stays constant, at least in the version I just watched. Jul 19 '17 at 21:36

It's not an uncommon way to lead up to a big explosive moment. You can find many examples in belting passages, e.g., Whitney Houston - One Moment In Time (Live at the 31st Annual GRAMMY Awards, 1989)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iUlF5uqD0E&feature=youtu.be&t=4m8s or Céline Dion - My Love (Video - Live) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jjR5ykr2Jg&feature=youtu.be&t=3m40s. In your example, the tension is further increased by the sudden chromatic ascension.

The tradition really goes back to the classical era. You can find examples in orchestral work like Beethoven 7th's 2nd movement: https://youtu.be/-4788Tmz9Zo?t=12m13s.


Be My Guest is considered one of the archetypical production numbers, a chorus and dance where all the singers and dancers who are in the play (production) come onto the stage to perform. The break and the quickening is typically the cue for the start of this chorus. So you might say that this feature is called the beginning of the production number. The break you hear is a departure from the prelude to the chorus, and you might call it "rolling out the works" if for a lack of a better term.

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