In the beginning was the "Beauty & The Beast" stage show at Disneyland, CA. It was a 25 minute whirl wind tour through the songs, sets, and story of the animated feature. B&TB was the first stage show at Disneyland to retell one of the feature length classics, previous shows had been in the revue format. It opened in 1992 on the Videopolis Stage in Fantasyland and ended in 1995 when it was replaced by a stage version of Pocahontas. Sadly the sets and costumes for B&TB burned in a warehouse fire shortly after Pocahontas opened meaning Disneyland would likely never see a return of the show.
The show was a fan favorite, developed groupies, stalkers, and it gave someone an idea. If the show was successful in the short form, why wouldn’t it work in the long form, on Broadway. The Broadway show opened in 1994 and will have its final performance this July. It opened the door for "The Lion King Musical", "Aida", "Tarzan", "Mary Poppins", and soon "The Little Mermaid".
They paved the way," said David Schrader, chief financial officer of Disney Theatrical Productions. "How we judge our success is how we export Broadway to the world."
But where Disney has succeeded on Broadway others have failed. Its rival Warner Bros. challenged Disney’s opening of "Tarzan" last year with its Broadway foray, the Elton John musical "Lestat." While Tarzan received mixed reviews but continues on Broadway, "Lestat" flopped and closed within two months.
Maybe Warner Bros. should have tried "Harry Potter The Musical".
Some fans are upset that Beauty And The Beast has been forced off the great white way and have started a petition telling Disney to bring B&TB back. For me, I’m happy enough to know that the show will live on in the Road show… and then maybe in 10 or 20 years there will be a Disney Broadway revival and B&TB will return.