On Oct. 23-25, the Durham Performing Arts Center will bring back Columbia, MD-based NETworks Presentations, LLC’s new-and-improved touring version of the 1994 Broadway musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, for five performances in DPAC‘s 2,700-seat, state-of-the-art theater, located in the bustling American Tobacco Historic District of the Bull City. This stage adaptation of the 1991 Disney animated film first played DPAC on June 8-13, 2010 and returned for eight highly popular encore performances on Oct. 8-13, 2013.
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.
Original Broadway scenic designer Stanley A. Meyer, lighting designer Natasha Katz, hair designer David H. Lawrence, and 1994 Tony Award®-winning costume designer Ann Hould-Ward are all reprising their roles for the current national tour. But the musical staging of associate director Sam Scalamoni and associate choreographer Connor Gallagher is a streamlined version of the spectacle that original Broadway director Robert Jess “Rob” Roth and choreographer Matt West conjured up for the show’s April 18, 1994 premiere on the Great White Way.
“Originally, the design for the show was very much ‘the animated feature film come to life,'” says Broadway and tour set designer Stan Meyer. “That was very much [then Walt Disney Company chief executive officer] Michael Eisner’s idea…. In the new version that’s on tour now, the design is much more imaginative and almost operatic or balletic.”
The 57-year-old Long Beach, CA native added, “[On tour, we] have to fit the set in a certain number of trucks, and set it up in a certain amount of time…. When the First National Tour went out [on Nov. 15, 1995], it was very much like the Broadway production, and I think that it had 36 trucks…. It took weeks and weeks to load in…. This tour has some one-day stops. It needs to load in in six hours, and strike within three hours — and it does!
“I think that the show, with this new design and staging, is a more intimate experience,” says Stan Meyer. “It puts a lot more focus on the characters and the story.”
The current national tour of Beauty and the Beast stars East Carolina University graduate Brooke Quintana as the Beauty (a.k.a. Belle) and Sam Hartley as the Beast. The show co-stars Christiaan Smith Kotlarek as the egotistical huntsman Gaston, Thomas Mothershed as the eccentric inventor and Belle’s father Maurice, Matt DaSilva as Gaston’s bumbling sidekick Lefou, and Danny Burgos as the creepy Maison des Lunes (insane asylum) proprietor Monsieur d’Arque. Samuel Shurtleff, Ryan N. Phillips, Stephanie Gray, Melissa Jones, and Stephanie Harter Gilmore play five of the most memorable Enchanted Objects in the Beast’s castle: the fussy talking clock/head of household Cogsworth, the debonair candelabra/valet Lumière, the maternal teapot/cook Mrs. Potts, and sexy oo-la-la feather duster/French chamber maid Babette, and the former opera diva/wardrobe Madame de la Grande Bouche.
Translating a two-dimensional animated movie into a three-dimensional live stage presentation presents a number of challenges for the theatrical production’s creative team. “We had no idea then that Beauty and the Beast would be what it is today,” confesses scenic designer Stan Meyer. “Who would have thought that, 22 years later, it would still be going strong, or that we would get to [restage and redesign the show] again and again, which is rare in the business.”
Meyer, who has a 1983 BA degree from Cal State University at Long Beach and a 1986 MFA degree from Rutgers University, says that repeated viewings of old European wood carvings inspired his set designs for the tour. “In the play,” he points out, “the audience sees through the facade of the Beast and sees the love that’s there. There’s a lot of translucencies and scrim-like effects [in the new set design] that allow the audience to see through to the heart of the show.
“We use very specific shapes and colors to indicate when we’re in the small town [where Belle lives] and when we’re in the castle [where the Beast lives],” says Meyer. “In the castle, [the shapes and colors] are more evocative to show the audience that we’re in this enchanted castle.”
He adds, “You have to look close to see that there are a lot of hidden creatures in the portals that live on the stage. My cat is in there…. In the library scene, for example, there are three little mice among the books!”
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 Broadway musical version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which incorporated the title tune and “Be Our Guest” and “Belle” as an integral part of its score, made its New York City debut on April 18, 1994, at the Palace Theatre and later transferred to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where it closed on July 29, 2007, after a combined total of 5,461 performances. That presentation starred Susan Egan as the beautiful Belle and former Raleigh actor and director Terrence Mann as the (initially) ferocious Beast.
Although the show’s original Broadway production 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).
Broadway and tour set designer Stan Meyer says, “I am so proud and honored for us as a group of creative people to be doing [the tour, as well as the original Broadway production]…. That allows the show to grow, and it’s completely unique.
“Something like La Cage aux Folles has had three revivals,” says Meyer, “and it’s had a new creative team for each of them…. Our [creative] team is a highly collaborative group of people. You would think that all shows in the theater are like that, but they’re not….
“In 22 years, we’ve become pretty good friends,” says Stan Meyer. “[Beauty and the Beast] is our child, so we take care of it. We love it, and we nurture it. It’s like raising a family.”
SECOND OPINION: Oct. 21st Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/entertainment_more/living-a-dream-ecu-grad-stars-as-belle-in-beauty/article_fca514f6-7839-11e5-b6ca-2753f2b07742.html (Note: You must subscribe to read this article).
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at 8 p.m. Oct. 23, 2 and 8 p.m. Oct. 24, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $30-$145. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.
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GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/disneys-beauty-and-the-beast and https://www.facebook.com/events/938187969554115/.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/video-gallery.
THE TOUR: http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/.
TOUR CAST: http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/cast.
TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/creative-team.
DPAC NEWS RELEASE: http://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/disneys-beauty-and-the-beast-is-returning-to-dpac-october-23-25-2015.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
DPAC CONTENT ADVISORY: “Recommended for all audiences including couples, parents, grandparents and kids alike (ages 6 and above only please)…. If you ever have questions about the content or appropriateness of a show, please contact us at GuestServices@dpacnc.com.”
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), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=1895 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: http://www.tuts.com/Images/SeasonShowDocs/beauty_study.pdf (Theatre Under the Stars of Houston, TX).
Alan Menken (composer): http://www.alanmenken.com/m/ (official website), http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/creative-team/alan-menken.html (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/12135 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Menken (Wikipedia).
Howard Ashman (lyricist): http://www.howardashman.com/ (official website), http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/creative-team/howard-ashman.html (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/6356 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Ashman (Wikipedia).
Sir Tim Rice (lyricist): http://www.timrice.co.uk/ (official website), http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/creative-team/tim-rice.html (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/8890 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Rice (Wikipedia).
Linda Woolverton (librettist): http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/creative-team/linda-woolverton.html (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/7344 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Woolverton (Wikipedia).
NETworks Presentations, LLC (producer): http://www.networksontour.com/ (official website).
Robert Jess “Rob” Roth (original Broadway director): http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/creative-team/rob-jess-roth.html (tour bio) and http://ibdb.com/Person/View/16035 (Internet Broadway Database).
Matt West (original Broadway choreographer): http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/creative-team/matt-west.html (tour bio), http://ibdb.com/Person/View/1511 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_West (Wikipedia).
Stanley A. Meyer (Broadway and tour scenic designer): http://www.beautyandthebeastontour.com/creative-team/stanley-a-meyer.html (tour bio) and http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/26370 (Internet Broadway Database).
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.)