HEY THERE BROADWAY FANS! Can you believe that the 71st Annual Tony Awards is just 12 days away? We have more highlighted performances from the past telecasts of Broadway’s biggest night of the year on our TOP 30 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN.
At # 12, we go on an adventure to an Enchanted castle where a beautiful young girl dreams for a new life, a young selfish prince trapped inside the body of a terrifying creature, and a room filled with mystical objects. This is of course the great classic story of Beauty and the Beast. It features songs by Alan Menken, the late Howard Ashman, and Sir Tim Rice (Official). The book was written by Linda Woolverton. It featured all the beloved songs from the film and new songs to expand the story. It’s based on the acclaimed Oscar winning 1991 Disney Animated film of the same.
From the 1994 telecast, the cast perform a medley of scenes and songs from show including ME, the Oscar nominated BE OUR GUEST, IF I CAN’T LOVE HER, and the finale reprise of the Oscar winning title song.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was Disney’s first ever attempt at Broadway. When the original 1991 Animated film was released and well praised by critics which audiences compared the show as if they’re seeing a classic Broadway musical in the Theater. The Disney team encouraged their former CEO Michael Eisner to give it a try. But it’s road to Broadway wasn’t easy. How would they do turn a man back and forth from a Prince into a Beast in front of a live audience? How would they turn people into household objects? Luckily by magic, Disney 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. It took 2 years to expand the 90 minute film into a 2 1/2 hour extravaganza.
Following it’s world premiere run in Houston at the Theatre Under The Stars, the show finally arrived on Broadway in 1994 at the Palace Theatre and later transferring to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre where 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 “Belle), Burke Moses (later Steve Blanchard, Chris Hoch, Grant Norman, and even Donny Osmond) as “Gaston”, Tony winner Gary Beach (later Bryan Batt, Patrick Page, soap star Jacob Young) as “Lumiere”, 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).
Earlier this year, Disney released it’s highly anticipated live action remake of the beloved film featuring an all star cast including Emma Watson as “Belle”, Dan Stevens as “The Beast”, Luke Evans as “Gaston”, and Ewan McGregor as “Lumiere”. 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.
The show continues to be a worldwide smash hit musical today with productions in schools, community, and regional theatres around the world.
FUN FACT: During the Broadway run when Toni Braxton joined the cast making Broadway history as the first African American actress to play the role of “Belle”, Alan Menken and Tim Rice wrote an additional new song especially for her entitled A CHANGE IN ME. The song fit so well in the story, it was kept permanently in all productions today. Later on, Susan Egan (original Broadway “Belle”) went on to record her own version of the song for one of her albums. In addition, when Ashley Brown made her Broadway Debut as the 15th Actress ever to play “Belle” (following having sung it on the National Tour of the shorten lived Disney revue ON THE RECORD), the ending was changed to a higher belt and grander orchestration.
Isn’t this musical timeless?!
Beauty and the Beast 1994 Tony Awards
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