Beauty and the Beast was released in 1991, part of a resurgence of Disney animated musicals in the late 1980s through the early 2000s. From the very beginning, the film adopted a theatrical tone, with a grand opening number featuring the full cast. For its voice talent, veteran Broadway performers lent their voices to bring these now classic characters to life: Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, Jerry Orbach as Lumiere, David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth, Robby Benson as the Beast, Richard White as Gaston, and Paige O’Hara as Belle. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken filled the score with tunes that have now become unforgettable classic songs like, “Belle”, “Be Our Guest”, and the title song, “Beauty and the Beast”. The film went on to become the first animated film nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category.
The animated film was adapted into a stage musical that made its Broadway debut in 1994. It ran for 13 years and closed in 2007. Throughout its run, many famous singers played its iconic roles including Toni Braxton, Debbie Gibson, Donny Osmond, and Nick Jonas. In 2017, Beauty and the Beast was turned into a live-action film, starring Emma Watson as Belle, allowing a new generation to experience the magical story.
Coincidentally, my own introduction to Waukesha Civic Theatre started with Beauty and the Beast in 2008. Braving a snowy evening in an unfamiliar city, I drove to WCT to audition for my dream role: LeFou (Gaston’s sidekick). Being new to the city and new to community theatre, I felt very much like Belle upon entering the castle. I was nervous, unsure of expectations, and a little bit scared. While I ended up not being in that production, I was welcomed with open arms by the wonderful people here at WCT, just as Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Chip welcomed Belle. In no time at all, I found myself at home.
Beauty and the Beast has cast a magic spell on generations that is as enchanting as the talking objects found within the Beast’s castle. It is only fitting that the film returns to its theatrical roots as part of the PIX Flix Kids series. Get your tickets today for this iconic film!
Beauty and the Beast truly is a tale as old as time.