On July 25-30, the North Carolina Theatre will retell “A Tale as Old as Time,” Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in the heart of Raleigh, NC. NCT will stage eight high-octane performances of the perennially popular 1994 Broadway musical, based on the 1991 Disney animated film. Beauty and the Beast made its Broadway debut on April 18, 1994 at the Palace Theatre, subsequently transferred to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, and racked up a combined total of 5,461 performances before closing almost exactly 10 years ago, on July 29, 2007. It is the 10th longest-running Broadway show of all time.
The stage adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is a family-friendly fractured fairytale that features memorable melodies by Alan Menken and lively lyrics by the late Howard Ashman and Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber’s frequent collaborator Sir Tim Rice, plus an effervescent script by Linda Woolverton, based on her screenplay for the Academy Award®-winning movie.
“I first saw the animated feature in the movie theater when it came out in the early 1990’s, and was so moved by the story and the style of the film,” says New York-based freelance director Sam Scalamoni. “It felt like a Broadway musical on screen!”
Disney’s 1991 animated motion-picture version of Beauty and the Beast, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, featured the voices of Paige O’Hara as Belle and Robby Benson as the Beast. The film won the 1992 Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score (Alan Menken) and Best Music, Original Song (“Beauty and the Beast,” with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman). The academy also nominated Beauty and the Beast for Best Picture of 1992, and the film had two other candidates for the Best Music, Original Song Oscar®: “Be Our Guest” and “Belle.”
The 1994 original Broadway musical version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast incorporated the title tune and “Be Our Guest” and “Belle” as an integral part of its score. Although it was nominated for the 1994 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Rob Roth), Best Lighting Design (Natasha Katz), and Best Actor, Actress, and Featured Actor in a Musical (Terrence Mann, Susan Egan, and Gary Beach as the human candelabra Lumière), Beauty and the Beast only won the Tony for Best Costume Design (Ann Hould-Ward).
Sam Scalamoni, who has directed Beauty and the Beast a number of times already, says, “Having been associated with the show for the past 16 years, from Broadway to Brazil to Korea, I have grown as a director so much through all of the amazing actors and designers around the world. The best lesson is that this story is so truly universal that it really touches the hearts of everyone. That is the real magic of great storytelling and the impact that theater, and all of the arts, can have on people.”
He adds, “My favorite thing about Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the heart of the story: the message that true unrequited love can truly overcome any odds, if you just look past the surface and see through to the heart of things and people…. Having been a director now for over 20 years, I have had the privilege to direct many diverse projects. When you are given the opportunity to help tell a story with a strong female heroine and moving story, you jump at it!”
Director Sam Scalamoni says, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a story of a selfish prince, who turns a beggar woman away. At which point, she reveals herself as an enchantress and casts a spell on the prince and his castle to teach him that beauty lies within. A smart young girl named Belle, in saving her father’s life, becomes a prisoner of the prince, now the Beast, and teaches him that seeing past the exterior to the heart can save his life.”
He adds, “Belle and her father [Maurice], an inventor, live in a small village; and on his way to the fair, he gets lost and stumbles into the Beast’s castle. Belle seeks him out and gives her life for her father’s release. There she meets all of the Beast’s servants, who are losing their lives through the spell, and turning into objects. Although Gaston, a hunter from the village, tries to kill the Beast, so that he can have Belle, true love conquers all.”
NCT’s production of Beauty and the Beast stars Catherine Charlebois as The Beauty (Belle) and Ben Michael as The Beast. She recently played Nessarose in both the Broadway and National Tour productions of Wicked, and he played Rapunzel’s Prince in NCT’s 2015 presentation of Into the Woods.
NCT’s 2017 rendition of Beauty and the Beast also stars Peter Saide as the narcissistic hunter Gaston, Dirk Lumbard as Lumière, Michael Brian Dunn as Cogsworth, Ann Van Cleave as Mrs. Potts, Matthew Simpkins as Le Fou, Talia Robinson as Babette, Andrew Delano Farmer as Chip, Lamont Wade as Maurice, and Aimee Henderson as Madame de la Grande Bouche. The Ensemble includes Ethan Baker, Justine A. Blackmon, Anna Virginia Conger, Elise Dwenger, Regan Featherstone, Joseph Gaitens, Abigail Gatlin, Chris Helton, Troy Hussmann, Joshua Keen, John Langley, Rebecca Layko, Daniel Marhelko, Katie Moran, Gabrielle Phillips, Amanda Blaire Spruill, Cooper Stanton, Lydia Tart, William Thomason, Lamont Wade, Emily Thomas Wells, Collin Yates.
In addition to director Sam Scalamoni, the North Carolina Theatre‘s creative team for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast includes producer Carolee Baxter; NCT artistic director Casey Hushion; choreographer Michael Whitney; musical director Edward G. Robinson; technical director Bill Yates, Jr.; lighting designer Samuel Rushen; costumer LeGrande Smith; properties manager Aline Johnson; sound designers Eric Alexander Collins and Brian L. Hunt; and stage manager William Alan Coats.
Director Sam Scalamoni says, “The set is like stepping into a storybook, with both Belle’s village and the magical enchanted castle full of gothic columns and gargoyles…. The lighting helps create both a beautiful countryside village and a dark mysterious castle.”
He adds, “The costumes become one of our biggest storytelling tools in bringing the iconic enchanted objects, Lumière, Mrs. Potts, and Cogsworth to life on stage! They are grand and beautiful! …
“[Beauty and the Beast] is a truly a show for all! A real old style Broadway musical with some Disney magic and romance with one of the best cast of actors I have told the story with!” declares director Sam Scalamoni.
SECOND OPINION: July 19th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/beauty-and-the-beast/Event?oid=5070090 and June 22nd Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh preview by the BWW News Desk: http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Catherine-Charlebois-and-Ben-Michael-to-Lead-North-Carolina-Theatres-BEAUTY-AND-THE-BEAST-20170622.
The North Carolina Theatre presents Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at 7:30 p.m. July 25-28 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. July 29 and 30 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/2264587.
NCT STUDY GUIDE: http://nctheatre.com/sites/nct/files/Beauty%20Study%20Guide%20FINAL.pdf.
2016-17 SEASON: http://nctheatre.com/show-season/201617-season.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/nctheatre, https://twitter.com/nctheatre, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/nctheatre.
NCT BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the 2 p.m. Saturday, July 29th, performance.
Beauty and the Beast (1740 folktale): http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0425c.html (Beauty and the Beast: Folktales of Type 425C, translated and/or edited by D.L. Ashliman) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast (Wikipedia).
Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve (French author, c. 1695-1755): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabrielle-Suzanne_Barbot_de_Villeneuve (Wikipedia).
Beauty and the Beast (1991 animated film): http://movies.disney.com/beauty-and-the-beast (official website), http://www.alanmenken.com/m/work/beauty-and-the-beast/ (Alan Menken web page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast_%281991_film%29 (Wikipedia).
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1994 Broadway and 1997 West End musical): http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000262 (Music Theatre International), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/beauty-and-the-beast-1895 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: https://pittsburghmusicals.com/downloads/StudyGuide-Beast.pdf (Pittsburgh Musical Theater).
Alan Menken (composer): http://www.alanmenken.com/m/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/alan-menken-12135 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Menken (Wikipedia).
Howard Ashman (lyricist): http://www.howardashman.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/howard-ashman-6356 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Ashman (Wikipedia).
Sir Tim Rice (lyricist): http://www.timrice.co.uk/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/tim-rice-8890 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Rice (Wikipedia).
Linda Woolverton (librettist): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/linda-woolverton-7344 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Woolverton (Wikipedia).
Sam Scalamoni (New York-based director): http://www.samscalamoni.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/sam-scalamoni-71940 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.facebook.com/samscalamonidirector/ (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/sscalamoni (Twitter page).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing email@example.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)