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Adrienne Krock, editor
Disney on Broadway - Part One

Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King are two completely different Disney musicals but also very great in numerous ways. In this two- part series, I review and describe both shows.


Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast opened on April 18, 1994. The opening of this smash musical marked the expansion of Disney's empire to include Broadway musicals. In this "tale as old as time," a young girl who longs for adventure outside her small village meets a horrific beast in a dark and cold castle. The beast and beauty fall in love, breaking a spell that was placed upon the beast and his servants. They then all live happily ever after.

Susan Egan was Belle in the original Broadway production - Promotional art  Disney
Promotional art Disney
Susan Egan was Belle in the original Broadway production

The story and the characters in the theater production are similar to both the Disney animated movie, and fairy tales told many years ago. All of the characters in Beauty and the Beast have their own personalities, feelings and trademarks that aid in making the musical show great. Belle is a courageous and intelligent young girl who longs for adventure outside of her poor, provincial town. She loves to read books that take her away to mysterious places and fulfill her love of adventure. She is a good role model for all, and has the traits of a wonderful fairy tale heroine.

On the contrary, Beast has a fearsome and horrific animal exterior. Once a handsome prince, a witch cast a spell on him so that he would look as selfish and beastly as his heart was. Imprisoned in a beastly body, the prince was told that only the power of true love that sees beyond physical beauty, would free him from his spell.

As the story evolves, Beast becomes loving and gentle on the inside. At the same time, Gaston, the story's egotistical adversary to Beast and Belle, begins to switch personality traits with Beast. While Beast has a horrific exterior that masks a loving interior, Gaston has a handsome exterior that hides a beastly interior that reveals itself as the show progresses.

The prince's servants, who became enchanted objects, even have their own personalities that help make the show great. Although, they are all under the same spell, they help Beast and Belle foster their love for each other. Lumiere is a lovestruck candelabra who flatters Belle and the flirtatious feather duster, Babette. Cogsworth is the pompous clock who serves as the faithful valet. And the kind-hearted Mrs. Potts and her perky son Chip were transformed into a teapot and teacup.

Terrance Mann was Beast in the original Broadway production - Promotional art  Disney
Promotional art Disney

Terrance Mann was Beast in the original Broadway production

The enchantment of Beauty and the Beast is illuminated by the bright and vivacious music. Each song was cleverly thought out and written to tell a story that advances the plot. In "Belle," Belle reveals her longing to travel to a far-off places and find adventure, while she is laughed at around town. "No Matter What" expresses the strong bond that Belle has for her father, Maurice. "Human Again," a musical number written for the film but not used, expresses the enchanted objects feelings on the spell and what they plan to do if it is miraculously broken. Even Belle's and Beast's solo songs express great emotion, and show what they are going through. In "Home," Belle reflects on her predicament that she is trapped inside a castle with a terrifying beast, and in "If I Can't Love Her" Beast's true human longings and personality traits are finally revealed to make this passionate song one of the greatest in the play.

The production of Beauty and the Beast also called for elaborate and whimsical costumes. Creating the horrific exterior of the Beast, the shining ballroom gown of Belle and the magic of the enchanted objects were all hurdles that costume designer Ann Hould-Ward had to clear. The production requires over 250 costumes and 150 wigs in the show.

Creating Beast's costume and makeup required an extensive task. Parts of Beast were created from special molds taken from casts of the actor's face. Each piece was hand painted to match the actor's skin, and every performance requires an hour and a half to apply the makeup to his face. The enchanted object's costumes allow the audience to easily recognize the characters. While the costumes cannot impair the actors' movements, their faces must also be visible to the audience.

Maurice (Tom Bosley), Cogsworth (Heath Lamberts) and Lumiere (Gary Beach) in the original Broadway production - Promotional art  Disney
Promotional art Disney
Maurice (Tom Bosley), Cogsworth (Heath Lamberts) and Lumiere (Gary Beach) in the original Broadway production

Lumiere has one of the most complicated costumes in the show. The apparatus used for the elaborately decorated candle hands, the sculpted boots, collar, and cuffs combine to create an exciting candelabra. Throughout the play, individual items are added to each of their costumes to show that as time passes, they gradually become more like objects and less like humans.

Another important aspect to bringing Beauty and the Beast to stage was creating a set that would correctly portray the sceneary, such as an enchanted castle or a cheery, sunny village. Each design reflected how the mood was enhanced in the story. The elaborate sets took six months to build and three months to install in the theater. For example, while Belle's bedroom in Beast's castle is rich and lush, it is still dark and dreary so it shows Belle as the Beast's prisoner.

Lighting also helps show how the characters feel in the scenes. In the finale, and during the song "Beauty and the Beast," the lights are vivid and bright with shades of yellow and light blue. During "The Mob Song," or "The Wolf Chase," the lights are dark and cold with shades of dark red and black. The scenic design sets the mood for any play, and certainly helps enhance the feelings for Beauty and the Beast. The show even takes advantage of state-of-the-art illusions such as the fireball cast by the enchantress. The fireball is the first throwable, hand-held, pyrotechnic device, taking a and a half years to develop.

Terrance Mann and Susan Egan in the original Broadway production - Promotional art  Disney
Promotional art Disney
Terrance Mann and Susan Egan in the original Broadway production

Beauty and the Beast is everything you would expect of a classic Broadway show. It has a wonderful plot and array of characters that help tell the tale of this timeless love story; music, vivid costumes, and scenic designs that help set the mood; as well as a wonderful cast in every show that help make this "tale as old as time" a memorable experience. The show has appeared in many countries and numerous cities, and is still a smash on Broadway in New York.

If you wish to see a wonderful musical with the classic Disney touch, Beauty and the Beast is definitely not to be missed. From all those who are moved by Beast's struggle to find love, to the little girl who might be heard whispering, "Belle is just like me," all audiences who have been swept up in the magic agree that this musical is a great success.

- Christopher

Coming Soon:
Part Two of Disney on Broadway
The Lion King


Christopher's Disney Trivia: Cats, the Broadway sensation, is the longest running Broadway show in history, with 7,485 performances. Beauty and the Beast is recorded as the 12th longest-running Broadway show, with 2,999 performances. The Lion King is recorded as the 36th longest-running Broadway show, with 1,582 performances as of August 26, 2001.


Have any questions, comments or suggestions for future columns? Drop me a line at coolkids@mouseplanet.com. I'd really enjoy hearing from you!

Disney on Broadway - BatB - Promotional art  Disney
Promotional art Disney

OTHER LINKS:

You can visit the official Disney website for the show

Zarina Mustapha has an acclaimed site on Disney's Beauty and the Beast, covering not only the show, but the animated film too

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hi!
My name is Christopher.

I am thirteen years old and live with my family in Southern California. I am currently a high school student, and an avid fan of Disneyland Resort. Other than visiting the "Happiest Place On Earth," I have numerous hobbies, the most significant of which is acting.

Acting has always been a major hobby of mine. I have been participating in numerous plays, movies and productions all of my life, and hope to eventually accomplish my dreams of becoming a famous actor. Some of my recent works include productions of The King and I, Shakespeare- Enough Already, and Ebeneezer. Other than acting, I enjoy playing the alto saxophone for my high school jazz band, playing the keyboard / piano, listening to music (especially the Rent soundtrack), and visiting the Disneyland Resort.

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