THROWBACK THURSDAY: Over the years, Broadway has had an incredible history of performers that have had a long history of playing the same leading role for a very long time. O
One of those actors was Steve Blanchard (recently seen as “Joseph Pulitzer” in the filmed performance of Disney’s Newsies). He is well known by Theatre fans as the longest running “Beast” during the original Broadway run of Disney’s first major stage musical hit Beauty and the Beast.
During his time with the initial long running Disney musical, CNN did a sit down interview with Steve backstage talking about his process he goes through 8 times a week transforming into “The Beast”, the demands it takes to play the role, and what is it like playing the same part for a very long time.
Blanchard’s journey with BEAUTY AND THE BEAST began in 1996 where he served as the standby for both “The Beast” (covering Jeff McCarthy, Chuck Wagner, and James Barbour)and “Gaston” (covering Marc Kudisch, Patrick Ryan Sullivan, and Grant Norman) on Broadway at the Palace Theatre. During that time, he rotated between the Broadway, Toronto, and Touring companies playing both roles. However, it was his performance as “The Beast” that earned him rave reviews. In 1999 as the show transferred to the Lunt Fontanne Theatre, Blanchard became the fulltime “Beast” of Broadway and stayed with the show playing over 4,000 performances through it’s July 2007 closing.
For his long running history as “The Beast”, Blanchard received his own caricature of him as the character hung in Sardi’s today. Anyone who has been on our tours might remember us pointing it to you when we visit the restaurant.
In addition, Blanchard released his debut album NORTHBOUND TRAIN which was an album of songs from shows he was in. The album does feature 2 songs from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST which were the title song and the big song Steve would bring down the house with every night at the end of Act 1…. IF I CAN’T LOVE HER.
In addition, Steve also met the co-star who changed his life around…. Meredith Inglesby Blanchard (who played the role of “Babette The Duster”) which he later married.
What an experience that is being in the same show for over 11 years.
Who remembers seeing Steve as “The Beast” or “Gaston”?