MORNING BROADWAY FANS! Just another day of waking up to the best performances of the Great White Way on our TOP 40 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. We are just 22 days away from the biggest night of the year?. The 72nd Annual Tony Awards. Who is ready for another Broadway showstopper?
At # 22 on our countdown, we experience a TALE AS OLD AS TIME like no other. It follows a young, smart, and intelligent girl dreaming for happier things in life and a selfish prince trapped inside the body of a monstrous creature with hopes of finding true love to set him free. We of course are talking about the great classic story of Beauty and the Beast. Based on the 1991 Oscar winning Disney animated film of the same name, the show features a score by Alan Menken, Sir Tim Rice (Official), and the late Howard Ashman and a book by Linda Woolverton. It was also well known as the first Broadway Musical ever produced by Disney.
From the 1994 telecast, the cast perform a medley of scenes and songs from the show consisting of the PROLOGUE, ME, BE OUR GUEST, IF I CAN?T LOVE HER, and the title song BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was first conceived as a Broadway musical in 1991 when the original animated film was released. was praised by critics which audiences compared the film as if they were seeing a classic Broadway Musical. The press called it THE MUST SEE BROADWAY SHOW IN A MOVIE THEATER! With the response being crazy, the Disney team encouraged their former CEO Michael Eisner to give it a try. However, the road to adaptation the 90 minute cartoon into a full 2 ? stage musical wasn’t easy. Many questions were asked like how they would turn an actor back and forth from a Prince into a Beast, transform real humans into household objects? Luckily by magic, the Disney team came across director Robert Jess Roth who is a genius with doing spectacular concerts for rock stars and got more inspiration to expand the story. For the objects, they came up with an idea that when the Enchantress places the spell on the castle, they slowly turn into objects as the petals keep falling off the Enchanted rose. In addition to the beloved songs written for the film by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman (who passed away right before the film was released), acclaimed lyricist Tim Rice came on board to co-write some new songs with Menken to help expand the story and characters. It took 2 years to expand the translate the 90 minute film into a 2 1/2 hour extravaganza.
Following its world premiere run in Houston at the Theatre Under The Stars, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST finally arrived on Broadway in 1994 at the Palace Theatre before later transferring to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. It played a total of 5,507 performances. The cast featured?
Tony nominee Susan Egan (later Sarah Uriarte Berry, Pop singer Deborah Gibson, Grammy winning R&B star Toni Braxton, Tony nominee Andrea McArdle, Tony nominee Kerry Butler, Sarah Litzsinger, TV star Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Megan McGinnis, Ashley Brown, Disney channel stars Christy Carlson Romano, and Anneliese van der Pol, and more) as “Belle”,
Tony nominee Terrence Mann (later Chuck Wagner, James Barbour, Jeff McCarthy, Steve Blanchard, and more) as “The Beast?,
Burke Moses (later Steve Blanchard, Chris Hoch, Grant Norman, and even Donny Osmond) as “Gaston”,
Tony winner Gary Beach (later Bryan Batt, Patrick Page, David DeVries, soap star Jacob Young, and Tony nominee John Tartaglia) as “Lumiere”,
Tony nominee Beth Fowler (later Beth McVey, Cass Morgan, Jeanne Lehman French, Alma Cuervo,
and much more.
The show went on to be nominated for 9 Tony Awards that year winning only 1 for Best Costume Design (for Ann Hould-Ward).
Following the success of the Broadway company, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST went on to become a worldwide spectacular family musical. For many children, it was their first Broadway show. There were productions everywhere from London?s West End, multiple US National Tours, and productions translated into almost every major language.
Last year, Disney released its acclaimed live action remake of the film. It features all the songs we love from both the original film and stage musical by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman plus 3 additional new songs by Menken and Sir Tim Rice (replacing the songs that Menken and Rice wrote specially for the stage musical). However for those who saw the film, you may might have heard a familiar melody of one of the stage musical’s songs used as an instrumental piece. It?s the song HOME (which is the huge ballad Belle does in the first act). The live action film featured a full all star cast including?
Emma Watson as “Belle”,
Dan Stevens as “The Beast”,
Luke Evans as “Gaston”,
Ewan McGregor as “Lumiere”,
Emma Thompson as “Mrs. Potts”,
FUN FACTS: For this 1994 Tony performance, Susan Egan (the Tony nominated original ?Belle?) broke her arm just 5 days before the Tonys that year. Luckily several parts from the performance were pre-recorded right before in the injury even happened. During the live performance, Egan?s dressers and team helped out to try and hide the cast under the costume so no one would see.
In addition, one of the songs written for the musical came in later during the Broadway run. That song written by Alan Menken and Tim Rice was called A CHANGE IN ME (which is the big 11:00 number sung by Belle talking about what her life has been since she and the Beast became close). The song was initially added into the show back in 1998 when Toni Braxton joined the cast (and made history being the first African American Actress to play ?Belle?). It fit so well in the production, it became a favorite of the musical ever since. Later on during the Broadway run the coda was changed to grand higher belt and orchestrations for when Ashley Brown made her Broadway Debut with the show as the 15th Actress ever to play ?Belle?, In most productions today, they use the high coda.
Isn?t this the most beautiful and romantic fairy tale ever told on stage?
Beauty and the Beast 1994 Tony Awards
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