|Beauty and the Beast|
Vocal Selections cover art
|Lyrics||Howard Ashman |
|Basis||Beauty and the Beast |
by Linda Woolverton
Beauty and the Beast
by Jean Cocteau
Beauty and the Beast
by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
|Productions||1993 Houston (tryout)|
1995 1st US tour
1997 West End
1999 2nd US tour
2001 UK tour
2001 3rd US Tour
2010 4th US tour
|Awards||Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical|
Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton. Adapted from Walt Disney Pictures' Academy Award-winning 1991 animated musical film of the same name - which in turn had been based on the classic French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont -Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a cold-blooded prince who has been magically transformed into an unsightly creature as punishment for his selfish ways. To revert into his true human form, the Beast must first learn to love a bright, beautiful young woman whom he has imprisoned in his enchanted castle before it is too late.
Critics, who hailed the film as one of the year's finest musicals, immediately noted its Broadway musical potential when it was first released in 1991, encouraging Disney CEO Michael Eisner to venture into Broadway. All eight songs from the animated film were reused in the musical, including a resurrected musical number which had been cut from the motion picture. Original songwriter Menken composed six new songs for the production alongside lyricist Rice, replacing Ashman who had died during production of the film. Woolverton, who had written the film's screenplay, adapted her own work into the musical's libretto, and specifically expanded upon the characterization of the Beast. Woolverton also expanded the storylines of the castle staff from servants who had already been transformed into household objects into humans who were gradually turning into inanimate objects. Costumes were designed by Ann Hould-Ward, who based her creations on both the animators' original designs as well as the Rococo art movement after researching how clothing and household objects looked during the 18th century.
After completing tryouts in Houston, Beauty and the Beast premiered on Broadway on April 18, 1994, starring Susan Egan and Terrence Mann as the eponymous Belle and Beast, respectively. The musical opened to mixed reviews from theatre critics, but was a massive commercial success and well received by audiences. Beauty ran on Broadway for 5,461 performances for thirteen years (1994 - 2007), becoming Broadway's tenth longest-running production in history. The musical has grossed more than $1.7 billon worldwide and played in thirteen countries and 115 cities. It has also become a popular choice for junior, amateur and high school productions.
Still recovering from Walt Disney's demise, Disney's animated films continued to experience a noticeable decline in quality while struggling to attain critical and commercial success during the 1970s and 1980s.The Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner was hired to ensure the performance of the studio's next animated projects, despite having virtually no animation experience. Eisner himself had been a theatre major in college. Eisner's first hire as Disney's CEO was theatrical producer Peter Schneider, who subsequently became responsible for hiring more artists who shared similar theatrical backgrounds to contribute to the studio's next animated releases, among them lyricist Howard Ashman and his long-time collaborator, composer Alan Menken. Ashman and Menken had previously amassed great live musical success with their Off-Broadway production Little Shop of Horrors, but the performance of Ashman's first Broadway venture Smile had been disappointing. Eager to redeem himself, Ashman agreed to work on Disney's animated film The Little Mermaid (1989), which he and Menken would famously decide to approach as though they were scoring a Broadway musical. Upon release, The Little Mermaid was a massive critical and commercial success, garnering two Academy Awards, both of them for Ashman and Menken's original music. Disney established a successful renaissance period, during which Ashman and Menken became responsible for teaching the art of transforming traditional animated films into animated musicals.
Inspired by Mermaids success, production on an animated musical adaptation of the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale began shortly afterward, during which Ashman finally confessed to Menken that he was dying of AIDS, a secret he had been keeping from the studio in fear of being discriminated against or fired. Before the film had even been completed, executive vice president Ron Logan suggested to Eisner that he consider adapting Beauty and the Beast for Broadway, an idea Eisner quickly deflected. While the film, written by screenwriter Linda Woolverton, was premiering at the New York Film Festival, an ailing Ashman was being cared for at St. Vincent's Hospital; the lyricist succumbed to his disease four days later on March 14, 1991, dying eight months before the film's November release.Beauty and the Beast became the last project on which Menken worked with Ashman. The film was released to immediate critical acclaim and commercial success, outperforming The Little Mermaid by becoming the highest-grossing animated film in history, as well as the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Once again, Academy Awards were won for Ashman and Menken's music. Several critics noticed the film's live musical potential, among them prolific New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich. Lamenting the Broadway selection at the time, Rich famously praised the songwriting duo for having written "[t]he best Broadway musical score of 1991", while hailing the film as a "better [musical] ... than anything he had seen on Broadway" in 1991. Rich's review would ultimately provide Eisner and Katzenberg with the confidence needed to seriously consider the film as a potential Broadway project. Disney was also inspired by the successes of Broadway musicals such as Cats, Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera strongly believing their production could be just as profitable.
Virtually unknown at the time, Robert Jess Roth was appointed the production's director based on his various successes directing live shows at the Disney theme parks. Eisner and Katzenberg had opted against hiring a more established director in order to retain creative control over the project, believing that an A-list director would likely feel more inclined to challenge their vision. Roth himself had previously pursued Eisner about investing in a Broadway show - originally suggesting a stage adaptation of Mary Poppins into a Broadway musical in 1984 - only to have his idea declined, citing cost of investment and time concerns. However, Eisner invited Roth to ask him about pursuing Broadway again in the future once he had finished directing three additional Disney theme park shows. Ultimately impressed with Roth's adaptation of The Nutcracker, Eisner finally suggested an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, inspired by the success of a condensed stage version of the film at Disneyland, although briefly discouraged by the idea of having humans instantly transformed into inanimate objects live. Since the film had not yet been released on home video, Roth spent an entire day re-watching Beauty and the Beast in theaters while brainstorming how to present its fantastical elements onstage, and eventually worked with choreographer Matt West and set designer Stan Meyer on their own proposal, with contributions from Menken and Woolverton. In a hotel in Aspen, Roth convinced Eisner and Katzenberg to green-light a Broadway adaptation of Beauty and the Beast using a combination of 140 storyboards, costume sketches, fabric swatches and demonstrating one illusion. Eisner retained final approval over all creative elements of the production, "from the lowest chorus swing performer to the director, stars and design team." Menken was initially skeptical of Roth's qualifications, as he had never directed a Broadway show before. Meanwhile, the producers were concerned that audiences might not be interested in seeing the same story that they have enjoyed on film on the Broadway stage. Among the skeptics was theatrical producer Steven Suskin, author of Opening Night and Broadway, who argued that the production was more likely to be successful in reverse: "(The movie is) basically written as a theater piece. I'm sure it would've worked in the theater first, and it then would've worked in the movies," believing audiences would have difficulties accepting a new version of such an immensely popular work.
Beauty and the Beast became Disney's first Broadway venture, although Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a stage adaptation of Disney's animated film of the same name, had premiered in New York in 1979, produced by Radio City Music Hall Productions, Inc. Theatre Under the Stars' executive director Frank Young campaigned heavily to have the show open in Houston, Texas even getting Governor Ann Richards involved in order to secure the stage rights.
Roth summarized Beauty and the Beast as a story about "seeing past the exterior of a person and into his or her heart". Woolverton learned that Disney had commissioned her to adapt the animated film she had written into a Broadway musical while she was vacationing with her family in Maui, and her initial response to the idea was "Yikes." In the process of adapting her own animated screenplay into a full-length, two-act libretto for the stage, Woolverton contributed several distinct changes to the material, specifically instilling more emotional "depth" into each main character. The writer expanded the story by both "fleshing out" each character and allowing room for new musical numbers. Namely, Woolverton made the Beast a more threatening yet sympathetic figure; the writer expanded upon his characterization by developing the Beast into "a fuller character", aided by the addition of his own song, "If I Can't Love Her". Meanwhile, the book-loving Belle was adapted into a more headstrong and determined heroine. Belle and the Beast's relationship benefits from a new scene Woolverton wrote specifically for the stage, during which the couple read in the castle's library; Belle introduces the Beast to the tale of King Arthur and reads the book to him, to which the Beast responds by showing genuine vulnerability for the first time.
In 1993, Woolverton explained to the Los Angeles Times that "the mythology in the story would be changed to explain, for example, a 6-foot-tall candelabra." Perhaps Woolverton's most significant modification involves the enchanted objects, and the decision to have the enchantress' spell gradually transform the castle's staff of loyal servants into household objects throughout the entire duration of the musical, as opposed to having already done so immediately at the beginning. Essentially, becoming completely inanimate if the spell is not broken in time would equate to each character dying, which ultimately augments the story's drama. Consequently, this plot decision enhanced the story into a tale about people being forced to make difficult decisions, as opposed to solely a story of a man struggling to retain his humanity, in turn providing the audience with an opportunity to care about the supporting characters dramatically.
Generally, Woolverton's book remained quite faithful to the original text; the plot is essentially the same, but particular detail has been added in order to "flesh out" the story. The feather duster and wardrobe characters - only minor characters in the animated film - were broadened into fully realized supporting characters and named for the first time; Woolverton named them Babette and Madame de la Grande Bouche, respectively. Taking her job seriously, Woolverton worked relentlessly on revising the script, and often took the cast's suggestions into consideration (though not always yielding to their opinions). Despite the musical having been based on a pre-existing story by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, Woolverton retains a sole writing credit for her work, as the story had long lapsed into the public domain by that time.
Broadway producers are usually eager to cast big-named performers in their musicals, but Katzenberg, famous at the time for avoiding working with actors of such caliber, decided against this practice for Beauty and the Beast. Eisner concluded that most of the film's original voice actors would be too busy to reprise their roles onstage. In her Broadway debut, then-22-year-old actress Susan Egan was cast as the musical's original Belle. Egan, who had not yet seen the film, had been auditioning for several other Broadway projects at the time - namely My Fair Lady, Carousel and Grease - in which she was much more interested. Despite longing to originate a Broadway role, the actress was initially reluctant to audition for Beauty and the Beast because she thought that "it was a terrible idea for Disney to put a cartoon on Broadway." Additionally, Egan felt she was not attractive enough to play a character touted "the most beautiful girl in the village", but her agent managed to convince her otherwise. Without any film to reference, Egan determined that Belle is supposed to be a "quirky" character and approached her funnier than how she is depicted in the film, in turn garnering laughs from the producers - who were amused by her unique interpretation - and eventually earning several callbacks. Meanwhile, her competition of 500 actresses, many of whom were simply offering imitations of voice actress Paige O'Hara's original performance, continued to be eliminated.
Egan's final week of auditions, during which she sang for Menken for the first time, was particularly challenging. On her last day of auditioning, Egan auditioned opposite several different actors trying out for the roles of the Beast and Gaston. As the day concluded, Roth directed Egan to approach the role as "a straight ingénue", and she was ultimately cast upon proving capable of playing Belle both straight and comically. Only afterward did Egan celebrate by finally renting and watching the entire film for the first time. Although Egan did not feel particularly pressured about the role, she was grateful to be surrounded by a supporting cast of veteran Broadway performers.
Actor Terrence Mann was cast as the Beast. Mann had previously performed as Javert in Les Misérables, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. For his final audition for Disney management, Mann performed for a large audience comprising Disney executives and secretaries in a theatre located on 42nd Street, which he felt was in stark contrast to the usual method of auditioning for six to eight people in a dark theatre. Actor Gary Beach was cast as Lumiere. Beach had seen Beauty and the Beast premiere at the El Capitan Theatre, prior to which he had watched a stage rendition of the film, and thoroughly enjoyed both. Beach was particularly drawn to Jerry Orbach's rendition of "Be Our Guest" in his role as Lumiere, thinking, "Now why can't I get a part like that". Two years later, Beach received a call from casting director Jay Binder inviting him to play Lumiere during their workshop of Beauty and the Beast, but kept turning down the offer due to having prior commitments to an upcoming show starring comedian Carol Burnett. It was only at Burnett's insistence that Beach finally accepted. Amidst a cast of relatively obscure actors, Tom Bosley, famous for his roles on the television series Happy Days and Murder, She Wrote, became the show's most recognizable performer when he was cast as Belle's father Maurice.
All eight of the film's original songs were retained for the Broadway adaptation. The song "Human Again" had originally been written for the film, but it was ultimately abandoned due to time and story constraints; the musical number was finally resurrected for and included in the production. Composer Alan Menken, who had both scored and written the film's songs alongside lyricist Howard Ashman, returned to the project to write six new songs for the musical. Lyricist Tim Rice joined Menken to co-write the new numbers, replacing Ashman who had died in 1991, before the film was released. Both Menken and Rice initially approached the project with some resistance; Menken's emotional attachment to the music he had written with Ashman made him fear Disney's vision of a Broadway musical would transform Beauty and the Beast into an attraction too similar to what one would find at Walt Disney World. Meanwhile, Rice, who had previously worked as composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's lyricist on the Broadway musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, was hesitant to replace Ashman in fear of worsening Beauty and the Beast. Notably, Rice had similarly replaced Ashman to write the remaining songs for Disney's Aladdin (1992) after the lyricist died. Ultimately, the collaboration resulted in approximately half of the Broadway score having co-writing credits by Menken and Ashman, while the remaining half are Menken and Rice compositions. The Menken-Rice songs are sometimes billed as "additional songs composed by [Alan] Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice." On working on the musical without Ashman, Menken explained that "The main challenge ... was blending the lyrics of Tim Rice with those of Howard. In the end, the finished score has a quality all its own; a hybrid between" Ashman and Rice's styles. Elaborating on the main difference between writing songs for the stage as opposed to film, Menken stated that the lack of close-ups and montages in a live musical production creates a requirement for more singing material in order "to provide the same kind of illumination that intimate facial expression provides."
Most of the new material focused on character development, such as Gaston's "Me", Belle's "Home" and the Beast's "If I Can't Love Her". Other new songs, Maurice's fatherly ballad "No Matter What" and Gaston, LeFou, and Monsieur D'Arque's villainous number "Maison des Lunes", were written to flesh out the plot (and in the case of Maison Des Lunes, give Belle and the Beast a longer chance to change into their ballroom outfit). In 1998, a seventh song entitled "A Change in Me" was written four years into production's run specifically for R&B singer Toni Braxton when she joined the cast to play Belle, and appears during the show's second act. The idea for the song originated while Braxton was still in negotiations with Disney to appear in the show for a total of three months, but various circumstances led to the singer constantly delaying signing the contract. It was not until Braxton had dinner with Menken, Rice and West that she finally agreed to sign the contract under the condition that a brand new song be written specifically for her, which an intoxicated Rice had drunkenly offered and promised. When confronted by Roth about his promise upon learning of it from Braxton a few days later, within 24 hours Rice successfully discovered a location within the musical in which to include a new song, specifically "Where Belle tells Maurice about how the time that she spent with the Beast in his castle has changed her." That song ultimately became the ballad "A Change in Me", which lyrically addresses the ways in which Belle's initial motivations have ultimately changed during her imprisonment, explaining to Maurice that she has matured and no longer longs for what she originally cited in "Belle (Reprise)". Braxton premiered the song in the form of a live performance on The Rosie O'Donnell Show. Both the song and Braxton's performance were well received, and "A Change in Me" has been included in the musical ever since. Eisner especially enjoyed the song, demanding that it be included in international productions as well, to which he personally traveled in order to teach it to the cast.
Music supervision was handled by Michael Kosarin, with sound design by John Petrafesa Jr. Unlike in the film, Belle actually performs and dances alongside the enchanted objects during "Be Our Guest", which resembles "a high-energy Vegas number" similar to the musical Ziegfeld Follies. The original Broadway cast recording of Beauty and the Beast was released by Walt Disney Records in 1994. Similar cast albums followed suit, including Australian and Japanese recordings in 1994 and 1996, respectively. "A Change in Me" has yet to be included on any official English-language cast recordings.
Stanley Meyer designed the production's set. Following Disney's instructions "to make the animated film come to life", Meyer's set was very much a literal interpretation of the film. Meyer found it "tricky" to translate two-dimensional environments into a three-dimensional world. The West Wing's appearance mirrors that of its resident the Beast, being hideous on the outside but beautiful when the audience is finally taken inside of it. In stark contrast to popular musicals The Phantom of the Opera and Into the Woods, Beauty and the Beasts set resembles a hybrid of Gothic Victorian and Louis Quinze. Disney hired costume designer Ann Hould-Ward to design the musical's costumes because the studio enjoyed a "certain aesthetic" she had used in her previous work, and thus allowed her much creative freedom. Roth was particularly impressed with the designer's contributions to the musicals Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods. Hould-Ward accepted Disney's offer because she was interested in seeing exactly how a corporate company producing a Broadway musical for the first time would "change the Broadway world." Conceptualization began in summer 1992. For research purposes, Disney encouraged Hould-Ward to reference the animated film; she also researched clothing worn throughout the late 18th century, during which the original fairy tale was written, and spent one year discovering how household items looked during the mid-1700s. Additionally, Hould-Ward visited with Beauty and the Beasts original animators, spending one week learning how they created their characters to ensure that they would be recognizable to those who had seen the film. However, the designer also decided that her own creations would not exactly replicate the film's. Basing the costumes on the Rococo art movement, Hould-Ward presented her initial ideas to Eisner and then-Disney president Frank Wells. Once approved, Hould-Ward and her team spent the following year creating prototypes of each major costume. With an unusually long work schedule of two years, Hould-Ward recalled that "this kind of timeline ... wasn't the norm in a Broadway musical" at the time.
The process of designing Beauty and the Beasts costumes was more collaborative between designer and actor than most other Broadway productions Hould-Ward had previously worked on, and she frequently sought input from the cast to make sure they were able to move. Designing Belle's costumes was an "easy" task for Hould-Ward; the character is initially dressed in standard Disney heroine attire until replaced by more elaborate costumes once Belle meets the Beast. Hould-Ward based the character's famous yellow ballgown on several historic portraits. The gown became the first costume built for the production in order to accommodate Disney's mandate to market the dress in photoshoots and commercials starring Egan and Mann, six months prior to rehearsals. Weighing 45 pounds, the dress is a combination of various patterns and materials, including a hoop skirt, silk, brocade, beading, flowers and bows. Too large to fit inside Egan's dressing room after the ballroom sequence, undressing required assistance from three backstage crew members who used wires to hoist the dress up into the rafters, where it would be stored until the next performance. A lot of time was spent designing the Beast's costume, the creation of which was especially challenging due to requirements to "allow enough of the performer to show through." Hould-Ward's initial designs for the Beast were constantly rejected by Katzenberg, who reiterated that she "put the movie onstage" until the producer realized that the excessive prosthetics were limiting Mann's vocal performance. A wire frame was also used to maintain the costume's shape, which evokes heavy metal fashion until ultimately substituted for a black Oscar de la Renta-inspired velvet suit when the Beast finally transforms back into a prince. Hould-Ward designed the leads' costumes from the perspective of her daughter Leah, explaining, "when Leah comes to see it, she remembers from the movie that the Beast was in that blue jacket. Leah expects that blue jacket, and if you don't give it to her, she and a lot of other ten-year-olds are going to be sad". At the same time, the designer wanted her creations to be equally as interesting on an intellectual level for parents to enjoy also.
The challenge of designing Belle and the Beast's costumes paled in comparison to the difficulty of creating the enchanted objects, a combination of intricate wiring, prosthetics and pyrotechnics.Scale was the most prominent "obstacle" for Hould-Ward's to overcome: "The problem was the presentation of an actor as a life-sized teapot when the characters in the film were so little in comparison". Because the castle's enchanted staff is slowly transforming into objects, shown at various stages of transformation without ever completely becoming the objects themselves, Hould-Ward was required to create several different costumes for each character in order to depict the transformation as the show progresses. Meanwhile, the costume of Lumiere alone was built by a team of forty people, including a creator of the prosthetic candle, hair and Vacuform specialist; the pyrotechnician, man responsible for equipping the costume's pyro unit with butane and man operating the butane tank were each separate people. While transforming animation into real life, Hould-Ward also worked on incorporating the human body each costume, explaining, "I wanted the reality of the real person rather than the fantasy of the object ... The essence of my job is to allow my real actors to take you to this fantastical place." A system of wired frames was used to help the actors support their characters' heavy garments. Such elaborate costumes had never been designed for a Broadway production before. Cogsworth's costume features a fully functioning clock on his face. Meanwhile, Madame de la Grande Bouche was the production's most expensive costume.
The musical originally relied on heavy prosthetics and elaborate costumes in an attempt to make the musical resemble the film as closely as possible. In an attempt to replicate the film's famous movie poster, Egan was dressed in flats while Mann was positioned on stilts to establish a more dramatic height difference. According to Egan, the studio "didn't trust the audience's ability to suspend disbelief, something theater-goers are routinely asked to do." However, the company finally began to relent as the production neared Houston tryouts after a final run-through during which the actors did not wear costumes; thus, the prosthetics were gradually lessened and replaced by make up for the Beast and enchanted objects during 1993 previews. The elaborate costumes resulted in their fair share of technical difficulties, malfunctions and performance restrictions, many of which manifested during the seven-week tryouts in Houston. The costumes left little room for the performers to change between scenes, and air conditioners were fastened to them to regulate their temperatures. In general, the weight of the enchanted objects' costumes limited their dancing. Chiropractors and therapists remained on standby to assist Fowler, whose Mrs. Potts costume required her to always keep one arm in the air. Beach compared holding up the two propane tanks used to represent Lumiere's candles to carrying two hams around a grocery store two and a half hours. To build his stamina, Beach would carry the tanks during rehearsal. Beach's hand caught fire during one performance, which he did not notice until Mann subtly pointed it out using "furtive head nods". While dancing, the inertia of Egan's heavy ballgown caused its skirt to constantly pull her in the opposite direction of whichever way she turned. Mann likened performing in the Beast's costume to wearing several heavy winter coats, comparing the wig to "four Angora cats and gaffer taping them to your head and then running around the block 10 or 12 times." Disney was outraged when, after their first performance at the Palace Theatre, The New York Times published caricaturist Al Hirschfeld's line drawing interpretation of Belle and the Beast's pose, in which Belle's yellow gown was colored pink, and the Beast's tuxedo appeared greenish as opposed to royal blue. When Disney confronted Hirschfeld, the artist defended his work, explaining, "The costumes may have been blue and yellow, but they made me feel green and pink." Hould-Ward adjusted the costumes to accommodate the locations as the production traveled to various theaters.
Lighting designer Natasha Katz was hired to work on Beauty and the Beast. When Disney first approached Katz to offer her the job, several of Katz's cohorts - specifically other lighting designers - attempted to discourage her from accepting in fear of changing the appearance of musical theatre forever. In hindsight, Katz defended Disney's work, explaining, "Beauty and the Beast didn't bring theatre back to New York, but it did change the dynamic, no question about it, of the business." Known for assisting David Copperfield with his illusions, Roth hired Jim Steinmeyer to work on Beauty and the Beast. Steinmeyer had previously contributed to the musical Merlin. The Beast's transformation sequence during the second act was much-discussed. It took about 11 weeks to set the design.
On a cold winter's night, an old beggar woman comes to a young spoiled prince's castle, offering him a single rose in return for shelter. But the prince turns her away solely for her appearance. The old woman warns him not to be fooled by appearances, as true beauty lies within, only to be rejected again. She then transforms into a beautiful enchantress and turns the prince into a hideous Beast and his servants into various household objects. She gives him the rose to use as an hour-glass. The only way he can break the spell is to learn to love another and earn her love in return by the time the last petal falls ("Prologue").
Ten years later, a beautiful young girl named Belle makes her way into town one morning in order to get a book from the local bookseller. On the way she expresses her wish to live in a world like her books, full of adventure, while the townspeople note her unparalleled beauty but find her love of books odd ("Belle"). Belle has also attracted the attention of Gaston (the local hunter and town hero), who admires her only for her beauty.
Belle, however, is not oblivious to her peers' views of her. She voices her concerns about it to her eccentric father and inventor, Maurice who assures her that she is anything but strange ("No Matter What"). The two then put the finishing touches on his invention and Maurice heads off to an invention fair donning a scarf knitted for him by Belle ("No Matter What (Reprise)"), but becomes lost in the woods and attacked by a pack of wolves. After surviving a wolf attack, he enters the Beast's castle and meets the servants, including Lumière, a maître d' turned into a candelabra, Cogsworth, the head of household turned into a clock, Babette, a maid turned into a feather duster that still seems to retain her flirtatious tendencies, Mrs. Potts, the head of the kitchen turned into a teapot, and Chip, her son turned into a teacup. They welcome him, but the horrid Beast arrives and locks Maurice away in the dungeon for trespassing.
Back in town, Gaston proposes to Belle, which she politely rejects ("Me"). Appalled by Gaston's forwardness, Belle once again voices her need for a life outside this provincial life ("Belle (Reprise)"). Gaston's sidekick, LeFou, returns from the woods wearing the scarf Belle knitted for Maurice. Belle realizes her father is in danger and heads into the woods to look for him. She ends up at the castle where she finds her father locked away in a dungeon. She makes a deal with the Beast, Maurice goes free but she remains instead. They agree and Maurice is sent back to town without being allowed to say goodbye. Belle is given a guest room and ordered by the Beast to join him for dinner. She mourns her situation ("Home"), but Mrs. Potts and Madame de la Grande Bouche, an operatic wardrobe, attempt to cheer her up ("Home (Reprise)").
Back in town, at the local tavern, Gaston sulks at his loss of a bride. LeFou and the patrons attempt to cheer him up ("Gaston"), when Maurice rushes in claiming a Beast has Belle locked away, they laugh at him but Gaston formulates a plan ("Gaston (Reprise)"). Back at the castle, the Beast grows impatient as Belle has yet to join him for dinner. Cogsworth informs him she refuses to come, after a shouting match between Belle and the Beast (which ends in a victory for Belle) he tells her if she cannot eat with him then she will not eat at all. In his quarters, he sulks and notes his fate should the spell not break ("How Long Must This Go On?"). Eventually, Belle does become hungry and ventures into the kitchen where the servants offer her dinner despite their master's orders. They treat her to an amazing cabaret show ("Be Our Guest").
After dinner, Belle gets a tour of the castle courtesy of Cogsworth and Lumière, her curiosity leads her to enter the West Wing, a place the Beast told her was forbidden. Mesmerized by a mysterious rose floating in a bell jar, she reaches out to touch it but before she can, the Beast stops her and orders her to get out accidentally shoving her in the process. Fearing for her life, Belle flees from the castle. Realizing his deadly mistake, the Beast knows he will be a monster forever if he cannot learn to love her ("If I Can't Love Her").
In the woods, Belle is attacked by wolves and is only rescued when the Beast comes to her aid, but he is injured during the fight and collapses ("Entr'acte/Wolf Chase"). Instead of taking the chance to run home Belle helps him back to the castle. She cleans his injuries and after a brief argument about whose fault this is, the Beast thanks her for her kindness and thus their friendship is born. Wanting to give her a thank-you gift, the Beast gives Belle his huge library, which excites her. She notes a change in the Beast's personality as the servants note a change in Belle and the Beast's relationship ("Something There"). They express their hope of being human once more ("Human Again") while Belle asks the Beast to accompany her to dinner that night.
Back in the village, Gaston and LeFou meet with the asylum owner Monsieur D'Arque. They plan to lock Maurice away to blackmail Belle into marrying Gaston ("Maison des Lunes"). In the castle, the Beast and Belle attend a lovely dinner and personal ball, where they dance together in the ballroom ("Beauty and the Beast"). The Beast, who plans to tell Belle he loves her, asks Belle if she is happy here, to which she responds positively but notes that she misses her father. He offers her his Magic Mirror to view him. She sees that Maurice is sick and lost in the woods and fears for his life. But even though the Beast knows there are only a few hours left till the last petal falls from the rose, he allows Belle to leave in order to save her father; she departs after a tearful goodbye ("If I Can't Love Her (Reprise)").
Belle finds her father and brings him back to their house in the village. After she is able to nurse him back to health, she explains the transformation she seems to have gone through while she was with the Beast ("A Change in Me"). A mob arrives, led by Gaston to take Maurice to the asylum. Belle proves her father's sanity by showing the townspeople the Beast is real using the Magic Mirror, but does not realize the error in her gesture. The townspeople immediately fear the Beast, but Belle insists that he is gentle and kind. Gaston catches her tone and recognizes the Beast as his rival for Belle's affections and organizes the mob to kill the Beast ("Mob Song"). In order to warn the Beast, Belle and Maurice decide to beat the mob to the castle. However, Gaston and the mob had already reached the castle before Belle and Maurice did.
At the castle, the servants are able to keep the lynch mob at bay, but Gaston breaks through and finds the Beast in his tower. He engages in a fight with him, mercilessly beating and taunting him ("Battle"). The Beast has lost the will to live at Belle's departure. As Gaston moves in for the killing blow, Belle arrives. The Beast immediately turns on Gaston and is prepared to kill him, but spares his life after seeing the fear in his eyes. The Beast and Belle are reunited, but this reunion is cut short as Gaston fatally stabs the Beast. This act of violence causes Gaston to lose his footing and he falls to his death.
On the balcony, Belle assures the Beast he'll live but they both know she is helpless to save him. She begs him not to leave her because she has found home in his company ("End Duet"), but despite this, he dies; Belle sobs on his body and says she loves him just before the last rose petal falls. A transformation takes place ("Transformation") and the Beast is alive and human once more. Though Belle does not recognize him for the first time, she looks into his eyes and sees the Beast within and they kiss. The two of them sing of how their lives have changed because of love and they dance once more as the company, now changed back to their human form, gathers in the ballroom ("Beauty and the Beast (Reprise)").
Beauty and the Beast premiered in a joint production of Theatre Under The Stars and Disney Theatrical at the Music Hall, Houston, Texas, from November 28, 1993, through December 26, 1993.
The musical opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on April 18, 1994, and ran there until September 5, 1999. The show then transferred to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 11, 1999, with an official opening date of November 16, 1999. The musical closed on July 29, 2007, after 46 previews and 5,461 performances, and is Broadway's tenth-longest running production in history (as of September 2019 ). The production holds the record of being the longest running production at both the Palace Theatre, where it opened, and the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where it closed its Broadway run. The production cost an estimated $12 million, arguably higher, becoming the most costly Broadway musical at the time. However, some analysists estimate the cost to be closer to $1.6 billion.
Directed by Robert Jess Roth with choreography by Matt West and assisted by Dan Mojica, the original Broadway cast included Susan Egan as Belle, Terrence Mann as the Beast, Burke Moses as Gaston, Gary Beach as Lumière and Beth Fowler as Mrs. Potts. Orchestrations were by Danny Troob (after his own orchestrations and arrangements of the film), scenic designer was Stan Meyer, costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, lighting designer Natasha Katz, sound was by T. Richard Fitzgerald, hair designer David H. Lawrence, and prosthetics were by John Dods. Illusions were by Jim Steinmeyer and John Gaughan, and pyrotechnic design was by Tyler Wymer.
The Broadway production closed to make way for Disney's next musical venture, The Little Mermaid. With Disney set to open its Broadway version of The Little Mermaid on November 3, 2007, at the time, it was believed that having two Disney princess films on Broadway at the same time would divide audiences and cause competition between the two shows. At this point, Disney also had three other shows running at the same time: The Lion King, Tarzan, and Mary Poppins. It was reported that Disney Theatrical planned to revive the show on Broadway for the 2008 holiday season, but Disney did not pursue this.
The West End production opened at London's Dominion Theatre on April 29, 1997, starring Julie-Alanah Brighten as Belle and Alasdair Harvey as the Beast. It also featured Burke Moses as Gaston, Derek Griffiths as Lumiere, Mary Millar as Mrs. Potts, Norman Rossington as Maurice, Barry James as Cogsworth, Di Botcher as Madame de la Grande Bouche, Richard Gauntlett as LeFou, and Rebecca Thornhill as Babette.
Over the course of the production, notable replacements included Michelle Gayle and Annalene Beechey as Belle, John Barrowman and Earl Carpenter as the Beast, Alex Bourne as Gaston, and Billy Boyle and Terry Doyle as Maurice. The production ended on December 11, 1999.
The show had four US national tours. The first opened on November 15, 1995, and closed in 1999. It featured Kim Huber as Belle, Fred Inkley as the Beast, Patrick Page as Lumiere and Paige Davis as Babette. Patrick Page and Paige Davis met and fell in love during the tour and married. A second national tour opened in 1999 with Susan Owen as Belle and Grant Norman as The Beast. This production closed in 2003. The third national tour opened in 2001 and closed in 2003. This production starred Jennifer Shraeder as Belle and Roger Befeler as the Beast with Marc G. Dalio as Gaston. Notable replacements on the tours have included Sarah Litzsinger, Erin Dilly and Danyelle Bossardet as Belle. The three touring companies visited 137 venues in 90 North American cities. About 5.5 million people in the United States and Canada saw these tours. The fourth national tour of Beauty and the Beast began February 2010, opening in Providence, Rhode Island, starring Liz Shivener as Belle and Justin Glaser as the Beast. Under the direction of the original Broadway creative team, the show featured all new sets and costumes. The tour was the longest in the show's history, running until July 2016.
The UK National tour (prior to the closure of the West End Production in 1999) began on November 2, 2001, at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool with stops in Bristol, Birmingham, Dublin, Southampton, Manchester and ended on April 12, 2003, at the Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh. The tour starred Annalene Beechey (reprising her role from the London production) as Belle, Alistair Robins as the Beast, Ben Harlow as Gaston, Julia Goss as Mrs. Potts, Stephen Matthews as Lumiere Barry James (reprising his role from the London production) as Cogsworth, Billy Boyle (reprising his role from the London production) as Maurice, Karen Davies as Madame de la Grande Bouche, Kate Graham (reprising her role from the London production) as Babette, Anthony Clegg as LeFou, and Oliver Taylor (reprising his role from the London production) and Sion Eifion sharing the role of Chip. Notable replacements included Dianne Pilkington as Belle, Alex Bourne as the Beast, Earl Carpenter as Gaston, Marilyn Cutts as Mrs. Potts, Richard Tate as Maurice, and Drew Varley as LeFou.
A Los Angeles production opened at the Shubert Theatre on April 12, 1995, and closed on September 29, 1996. Most of the original Broadway cast, including Susan Egan, Terrence Mann, Gary Beach, Beth Fowler, Burke Moses and Tom Bosley reprised their roles. Notable replacements included James Stacy Barbour as the Beast. The sets in this production were widely considered to be the largest out of all the musical's productions in the world. After the show closed in Los Angeles, all of the sets were transferred for the production in Mexico City in 1997.
The Toronto production opened at the Princess of Wales Theatre on July 25, 1995, and closed on August 30, 1997. The production starred Kerry Butler as Belle and Chuck Wagner as the Beast, and Terry Doyle as Maurice. Notable replacements included Melissa Thomson as Belle and Steve Blanchard as the Beast. The lesser known Halifax production at the Neptune Theatre was the longest running production in the theatre's history.
Beauty and the Beast has been performed in more than 30 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United States. Over 35 million people have seen the show worldwide and it has grossed more than $1.7 billion.
On July 15, 1995, the musical began its original Australian run in Melbourne at the Princess Theatre, before moving on to Sydney. The original Australian cast included Michael Cormick as The Beast, Rachael Beck as Belle, Hugh Jackman as Gaston, and Ernie Bourne as Maurice.
In December 1997, the musical opened in Stuttgart at the Palladium Theatre, Stuttgart and played there until December 22, 2000. Leah Delos Santos played Belle and Uwe Kröger played the Beast and Marc G. Dalio played Gaston.
In 1999, the musical opened in China.
On June 16, 2005, the musical began its Philippine run at the Meralco Theater. Produced by Atlantis Productions, it featured KC Concepcion alternating with Karel Marquez as Belle, Jett Pangan as the Beast, and Calvin Millado as Gaston.
In South America, Argentina was the first country to produce it, with Marisol Otero as Belle, Juan Rodó as Beast, Diego Jaraz as Gaston, Gustavo Monje as LeFou, Pablo Lizaso as Lumière, Mónica Nuñez as Mrs. Potts, Omar Pini as Cogsworth, Alejandra Radano as Babette and Rodolfo Valss as Maurice. It ran from November 26, 1998, at the Teatro Ópera in Buenos Aires until August 15, 1999, before opening again in 2010. Brazil was the second country to host the musical. Disney had plans to bring it to the country in 1999, after the success in Argentina, but nobody really knew if it would work. Three years later, in 2002, Beauty and the Beast finally opened in Brazil at Teatro Abril, one of the biggest theaters in the country. It was a huge hit, for more than one and a half years, it was presented with Kiara Sasso playing Belle and Saulo Vasconcelos playing the Beast. In 2009, a new Belle and a new Beast were cast, Lissah Martins and Ricardo Vieira, as the musical came back to Brazil, Kiara Sasso was playing Maria in The Sound of Music. Beauty and the Beast remained for six months at Teatro Abril. Even though the play was brought back as a way to try to recoup some of the money lost in Brazil's version of Miss Saigon, this second incarnation of Beauty and the Beast failed to create any critical buzz, or to be a box office success.
In Spain there have been three productions of the show. The first one, based on the original Broadway production, had its Madrid debut on December 2, 1999, at Teatro Lope de Vega. The original cast included Xenia Reguant (later replaced by Julia Möller) as Belle, Carlos Marín (later replaced by Joe Luciano) as Beast, Lisardo Guarinos (later replaced by Manuel Bandera) as Gaston, Víctor Ullate Roche as LeFou, Germán Torres as Lumière, Kirby Navarro as Mrs. Potts, David Venancio Muro as Cogsworth, Dulcinea Juárez as Babette, Laura Inclán as Madame de la Grande Bouche and Miguel de Grandy as Maurice. After a successful run of 27 months and about 900 performances, the production finally closed on March 3, 2002, becoming the longest-running musical ever in Madrid at that time. In 2007, a second version produced by Stage Entertainment premiered on October 3, at Teatro Coliseum, Madrid, for a limited run of six months, but the closing was postponed due to a successful season. The original cast included Julia Möller reprising her role as Belle (later replaced by María Adamuz), David Ordinas as Beast, Pablo Puyol as Gaston, Raúl Peña as LeFou, Armando Pita as Lumière, Angels Jiménez as Mrs. Potts (later replaced by Rita Barber), Esteban Oliver as Cogsworth, Silvia Luchetti as Babette, María José Oquendo as Madame de la Grande Bouche and Lorenzo Valverde as Maurice. The production closed on January 11, 2009, and was transferred to Barcelona, where it ran from February 26, 2009, to January 10, 2010, at BTM, with some changes in the cast, including Mercè Martínez as Mrs. Potts, Marta Capel as Babette, Patricia Paisal as Madame de la Grande Bouche and Albert Muntanyola as Maurice. In 2012, the Stage Entertainment version was relaunched as a touring production, beginning performances on September 6, at Teatro Calderón, Valladolid. The original cast of this third Spanish production included Talía del Val as Belle, Ignasi Vidal as Beast, Daniel Diges as Gaston, Raúl Peña as LeFou, Diego Rodríguez as Lumière, Mone as Mrs. Potts, Frank Capdet as Cogsworth, Marta Capel as Babette, Eva Diago as Madame de la Grande Bouche and Enrique R. del Portal as Maurice.
In 2005, Disney and Stage Entertainment produced a new version of the show using brand new sets and costumes. After touring the Netherlands and playing in Antwerp, Belgium, Disney and Stage Entertainment brought the show to Berlin, Germany, in 2006 after a (approx.) one-year run at the Metronom Theater in Oberhausen. This production opened in 2007 in Madrid, Spain, and in 2009 in Milan, Italy, with Arianna as Belle and Michel Altieri as the Beast. The Broadway production played a second time in Mexico City beginning in September 2007 and in Hiroshima, Japan, beginning in February 2008. The Broadway production opened in South Africa in September 2008 and ran until March 2009. In 2004, Disney began to license the show to other companies for touring, and the show has been performed by professional and amateur companies in many countries.
Beginning October 2014, Disney Theatrical Productions, NETworks and Broadway Entertainment Group launched an international tour in celebration of Beauty and the Beasts 20th anniversary on stage. The tour opened at the Zorlu Center in Istanbul, Turkey, and closed in January 2016 at Dubai World Trade Centre, having visited Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Greece, Italy, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Egypt, Lebanon, Romania, and Qatar.
In December 2015, Beauty and the Beast came back to the Netherlands for a run at Circustheater in The Hague.
In 2016, Disney and Marmelade produced an updated version for the Flemish Region of Belgium. The original cast included Josje Huisman as Belle, Jan Schepens as Beast, Dieter Troubleyn as Gaston, Peter Van de Velde as Lumière, Frank Hoelen as Maurice, Ivan Pecnik as Cogsworth (called Tickens), Eline De Munck as Babette, Peter Thyssen as LeFou, Barbara Dex as Mrs. Potts and Saskia Schäfer as Madame de la Grande Bouche (called La Commodia). The show premiered on December 10, 2016, at Flanders Expo in Ghent.
The show's rights became available (in association with Josef Weinberger Ltd.) to amateur performing groups and regional musical societies. The show has been performed in numerous countries, by theatre companies on both an amateur and professional level.
On April 24, 2019 Disney Theatrical Groups revealed that Beauty and the Beast would return to Broadway. Thomas Schumacher announced that the Broadway revival would be updated, but there was no theatre or production timeline announced.
|Belle||A vibrant, intelligent young beauty who wants much more in life than living in a small town. She is perceived to be quite odd.|
|Beast / Prince||A Prince transformed into a terrifying beast for his lack of compassion; short-tempered and commanding, but with a warm, loving heart buried far beneath his gruff exterior.|
|Gaston||The story's antagonist. The vain, egotistical, narcissistic, ultra-masculine villain determined to marry Belle.|
|Lumière||A suave, French, debonair enchanted candelabra. The maître d' of the castle.|
|Cogsworth||A tightly wound, enchanted stuffy mantle clock and head of the Beast's castle.|
|Mrs. Potts||A kind-hearted, maternal enchanted teapot. The head of the castle's kitchen.|
|Chip||A young teacup; Mrs. Potts' son.|
|Maurice||Belle's loving, eccentric inventor father.|
|LeFou||Gaston's bumbling sidekick.|
|Madame de la Grande Bouche||A former opera diva turned into a wardrobe|
|Monsieur D'Arque||The freaky, scheming proprietor of the local insane asylum, the Maison des Lunes.|
|Babette||A saucy, flirtatious featherduster who seeks Lumière's affections. The maid of the castle.|
|Ensemble||Silly Girls, Enchanted Objects, Townspeople, Tavern Patrons, Mob.|
* New song or instrumental cue
+ Expanded vocal or instrumental content, using either cut lyrics by Ashman or dance arrangements by Glen Kelly, or both.
? "Human Again" was written by Menken and Ashman for the movie, but was cut, due to the complications it made on the film's timeline. It was repurposed for the Broadway play, and on account of the musical's great success, an entirely new animated sequence based on the Broadway version was set to this song and inserted into 2002's Special Edition DVD release.
§ "A Change in Me" was written into the show in 1998 for the debut of Toni Braxton and was retained thereafter.
# not in the Junior Broadway show
Music Theatre International offers two orchestrations for Beauty and the Beast.
The principal, larger orchestration is based on the original Broadway orchestration. It is scored for three synthesizers, a drum kit, a percussion section, double bass, three woodwind players, three French horns in F, two trumpets in B-flat, trombone, divided violins, cellos, and harp. The first woodwind player doubles on flute and piccolo, the second on English horn and oboe, and the third on clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute. The trombonist doubles on bass trombone and tuba.
The original Broadway orchestration featured two additional woodwind players. The first played flute and piccolo, the second oboe and English horn, the third piccolo, flute and clarinet in B-flat, the fourth piccolo, flute, clarinet in B-flat and bass clarinet in B-flat, and the fifth on bassoon and contrabassoon. The excised reed parts were used for the synthesizer parts upon their removal for the licensed orchestration.
The optional reduced orchestration is scored for two synthesizers, a percussion section, double bass, three woodwind players, a trumpet, a French horn, and solo violin and cello.
|Characters||Broadway (1994)||Australia (1995)||Toronto (1995)||West End (1997)|
|Belle||Susan Egan||Rachael Beck||Kerry Butler||Julie-Alanah Brighten|
|Beast/Prince||Terrence Mann||Michael Cormick||Chuck Wagner||Alasdair Harvey|
|Maurice||Tom Bosley||Ernie Bourne||Terry Doyle||Norman Rossington|
|Gaston||Burke Moses||Hugh Jackman||Dan Chameroy||Burke Moses|
|Lumiere||Gary Beach||Grant Smith||André Thérien||Derek Griffiths|
|Mrs. Potts||Beth Fowler||Robyn Arthur||Judy Marshak||Mary Millar|
|Cogsworth||Heath Lamberts||Bert Newton||Paul Brown||Barry James|
|Madame de la Grande Bouche||Eleanor Glockner||Gloden Mercer||Jo-Anne Kirwan-Clark||Di Botcher|
|Babette||Stacey Logan||Alinta Carroll||Elizabeth Beeler||Rebecca Thornhill|
|Chip||Brian Press||Paul Cheyene
|LeFou||Kenny Raskin||Zachary McKay||Cliff Saunders||Richard Gauntlett|
|Monsieur D'Arque||Gordon Stanley||Brian Langsworth||Sandy Winsby||David Pendlebury|
The Original Broadway Cast Recording was released on April 26, 1994. The CD included Susan Egan as Belle, Terrence Mann as Beast, Burke Moses as Gaston, Gary Beach as Lumière, Tom Bosley as Maurice, Anna McNeeley as Madame de la Grande Bouche and Beth Fowler as Mrs. Potts.
The Original Australian Cast Recording was released in 1995. The principal cast included Rachael Beck as Belle, Michael Cormick as Beast, Hugh Jackman as Gaston, Ernie Bourne as Maurice, Toni Lamond as Madame de la Grande Bouche, Grant Smith as Lumière, Robyn Arthur as Mrs. Potts and Bert Newton as Cogsworth.
The Original Vienna Cast Recording was released in 1996. The principal cast included Ethan Freeman as Beast, Caroline Vasicek as Belle, Kevin Tarte as Gaston, Viktor Gernot as Lumière, Ann Mandrella as Babette, and Rosita Mewis as Mrs. Potts.
The Original London Cast Recording was released in 1997. The principal cast included Julie-Alanah Brighten as Belle, Alasdair Harvey as Beast, Burke Moses as Gaston, Derek Griffiths as Lumière and Mary Millar as Mrs. Potts.
The Original Stuttgart Cast Recording was released in 1998. The principal cast included Uwe Kroger as Beast and Leah Delos Santos as Belle and Ann Mandrella as Babette.
The Original Madrid Cast Recording was released in 1999. The principal cast included Xenia Reguant as Belle, Carlos Marín as Beast, Lisardo Guarinos as Gaston, Víctor Ullate Roche as LeFou, Germán Torres as Lumière, David Venancio Muro as Cogsworth and Kirby Navarro as Mrs. Potts. A second cast recording for the new production was released in May 2008, starring Julia Möller as Belle, David Ordinas as Beast, Pablo Puyol as Gaston, Raúl Peña as LeFou, Armando Pita as Lumière, Esteban Oliver as Cogsworth and Angels Jiménez as Mrs. Potts.
A "junior" version of the musical for middle and high school students was published by MTI. This version only included a selected number of the songs, including "Belle", "Belle (Reprise)", "Home", "Home (Tag)", "Gaston", "Gaston (Reprise)", "Be Our Guest", "Something There", "Human Again", "Beauty and the Beast", "The Mob Song", "Home (Reprise)", and "Beauty and the Beast (Reprise)". Also in "Belle (Reprise)", The Silly Girls take Belle's part in the beginning of the song instead of Belle having to sing the whole song. Also in "Something There", Madame de la Grande Bouche and Babette sing as well.
Reception towards the tryouts in Houston were so enthusiastic that the production was extended for two weeks. Jerome Weeks of Variety responded to the show with a positive review, praising the performances of Egan, Mann and Moses, as well as the Beast's new song "If I Can't Love Her". At the same time, Weeks felt that the production "gets close to slipping into a big-budget kiddie show or magic act with its overdone showbiz glitz and sparkly stage-illusion effects"at times, but in the end predicted that "'Beauty and the Beast' could well be the big new musical hit this Broadway season has been waiting for." However, in 1994, Beauty and the Beast finally premiered on Broadway to reviews that ranged from mixed to negative, leaving critics mostly unimpressed. Reactions from the New York theatre community and Broadway producers were particularly harsh, ridiculing Disney for deciding to produce the musical themselves as opposed to enlisting traditional theatre companies. Egan recalled that "the same five families [had] produced Broadway shows for a hundred years and Disney shook that up."
Nearly universally panned by theatre critics, they concurred that Beauty and the Beast was a "great spectacle, but not great theater". Likening the musical to the Empire State Building, David Richards of The New York Times called the show "hardly a triumph of art, but it'll probably be a whale of a tourist attraction." While awarding specific praise towards its musical numbers, choreography, costumes and cast - particularly Mann's ability to "convey the delicacy of awakening love" despite the physical demands of his costume, at the same time Richards criticized the production's set and special effects for lacking subtlety, ultimately accusing them of leaving little "to the imagination". Richards concluded, "The result is a sightseer's delight, which isn't the same thing as a theatergoer's dream." Also writing for The New York Times, Vincent Canby disparaged the musical entirely as "relentlessly bland, busy, upbeat and robotlike", criticizing the production for resembling "a dinner theater." Canby felt that the new Menken-Rice songs were "inferior" to the originals, likened the special effects to Fourth of July sparklers, criticized the sound engineering for ranging from too loud to barely audible, and panning Woolverton's book for failing to supplement her screenplay. Minor praise was awarded to the performances of Lamberts, Beach and Fowler, as well as Mann's climactic beast-to-prince transformation. In addition to predicting that Beauty and the Beast would be derided by traditional Broadway theatre-goers and critics alike, Variety writer Jeremy Gerard was largely negative in his own review. While admitting that the production "boasts several real pluses", Gerard criticized the show for appearing "bloated, padded, gimmick-ridden, tacky and ... utterly devoid of imagination." The critic voiced his strong disapproval of the costumes while dismissing the set as "something designed to be seen by people in moving seats, maybe at Disneyland", panning West's choreography and ultimately deriding Roth's directing and blocking of actors who "look generally like they're following dotted lines on the stage." Critics agreed that Roth's direction and West's were equally uninspired. In a mixed review with a headline reading "Beauty and the Beast isn't magical in the least, even if it does bristle with magic tricks", New Yorks John Simon wrote that the production resembles "a belated infomercial" for the film by which he was bored, yet impressed by its special effects and illusions. Simon also felt that the actors struggled to resemble their animated counterparts despite Hould-Ward's, criticizing Egan's acting, Woolverton's dialogue and the new Menken-Rice numbers while praising Moses', Beach's and Fowler's performances.
Audiences did not share critics' negative opinions, and the musical famously resonated with the public and families. Children were especially delighted by the idea of their favorite movie performed on stage by live actors. Subsequent productions have gradually attracted kinder remarks; the national tours in particular have been well received. Reviewing a performance of the musical at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles in 1995, Tom Jacobs of Variety wrote, "Born in Hollywood as an animated film, Disney's version of 'Beauty and the Beast' has returned home as an opulent stage musical, a year after its Broadway bow. Both good and bad choices have been made in adapting the 1991 film, but with its outstanding performances, fantastic production values and memorable score, this show should warm the hearts of all but the most curmudgeonly theatergoers." However, Jacobs felt that the production suffered from the lack of danger felt watching the film. After having been left unimpressed upon viewing the original Broadway production, Varietys Matt Wolf was pleasantly surprised by the musical's West End debut one year later.
"Be Our Guest" was used as the commercial for the 1994 Tony Awards. Michael Goldstein of New York correctly predicted that Mann would earn a Tony Award nomination for his performance. Despite having been nominated for a total of nine individual awards, Beauty and the Beast was ultimately shunned at the ceremony, winning only one award - Best Costume Design - for Hould-Ward. Nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical, the production famously lost to Stephen Sondheim's Passion, which is considered to be his own version of the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale. In 1995, some of Hould-Ward's costumes, namely Lumiere, were put on display in Nordstrom stores. Meanwhile, Belle and the Beast's ballroom costumes were exhibited at Westside Pavilion, and Mrs. Potts and LeFou appeared at South Coast Plaza.
|Best Book of a Musical||Linda Woolverton||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Terrence Mann||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Susan Egan||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical||Gary Beach||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Robert Jess Roth||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Ann Hould-Ward||Won|
|Best Lighting Design||Natasha Katz||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Terrence Mann||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actress in a Musical||Susan Egan||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Burke Moses||Nominated|
|Outstanding Choreography||Matt West||Nominated|
|Outstanding Orchestrations||Danny Troob||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lyrics||Howard Ashman and Tim Rice||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Alan Menken||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Design||T. Richard Fitzgerald||Nominated|
|Outstanding Special Effects||Jim Steinmeyer and John Gaughan||Nominated|
|1998||Laurence Olivier Award||Best New Musical||Won|
|Best Theatre Choreographer||Matt West||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Ann Hould-Ward||Nominated|
Largely due to audience reception, Beauty and the Beast remains one of Broadway's biggest successes of the current era.Beauty and the Beast established itself as a musical that could survive on Broadway despite its unenthusiastic reviews. Several detractors had thought that musicals like Beauty and the Beast would be a one-time event, but the results ultimately turned out to be quite the opposite. According to theatrical producer Stuart Oken, Disney's success with Beauty and the Beast is responsible for today's biggest Broadway hits and making the medium "better than it has ever been". The groundbreaking performance of Beauty and the Beast inspired other major Hollywood studios to produce Broadway renditions of some of their own films. Disney soon began to commission Broadway adaptations of several of the studio's most popular musical films, namely The Lion King (1997), Mary Poppins (2004), Tarzan (2006), The Little Mermaid (2008), Newsies (2012) and Aladdin (2014), in addition to producing the musical Aida. After completing her run in Beauty and the Beast, Egan would famously go on to voice Meg in Disney's animated musical Hercules (1997), establishing herself as a popular voice and film actress. Following the success of "Human Again", the song was later incorporated into reissues of the animated film in the form of an animated musical sequence.
Beauty and the Beast is considered to be Broadway's first legitimate family show, responsible for birthing an entirely new generation of young theatregoers. The family demographic of the musical established inspired international productions of Aladdin and Matilda. According to The Complete Book of 1990s Broadway Musicals author Dan Dietz, "the show's resounding success opened the floodgates for a spate of ... productions based on Disney and other family-oriented films", transforming Broadway into "a theme park with a parade of musicals aimed at kids and teenagers." Dietz believes that the plethora of Broadway musicals that came after Beauty and the Beast have unfortunately resembled "feel-good family show[s] whose goal was to emulate its film source." Additionally, the success of the musical inspired a legion of Broadway productions geared towards young women, including Hairspray (2002), Wicked (2003), Legally Blonde (2007), Matilda (2013) and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (2013). While these musicals flourished on Broadway, it seems as though more serious, adult-oriented fare struggled to perform as well. New York theatre critic Howard Kissel famously despised "the Kiddy Komponent of New York theatergoing" spearheaded by the successful 13-year Broadway run of Beauty and the Beast. The success of Beauty and the Beast inspired Eisner to invest in his own theatre to house future stage adaptations of the studio's animated classics.
beauty and the beast broadway michael eisner.