The “Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage” show in the Fantasyland Theater at Disneyland only lasted three years but it payed a large part in inspiring Disney to mount a Broadway musical. These days the productions at Disney’s theme parks and cruise lines are practically Broadway shows themselves. Which is why seeing the brand-new “Beauty and the Beast” musical aboard the Disney Dream felt like a loop had been closed and we were back at the beginning. I would not be surprised if a new version of Beauty the Beast found its way to Broadway, inspired, at least in part, by the new movie and high-seas musical theater version.
The tale as old as time takes the stage with “Beauty and the Beast,” a production inspired by Disney’s live-action adaptation of the animated classic. This new production of “Beauty and the Beast,” is exclusive to the Disney Dream. It celebrates the romance, adventure and magic of the live-action film, weaving in the charm and nostalgia of the award-winning animated feature.
The “Beauty and the Beast” theatrical experience transforms the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre with cutting-edge technology. The show itself is an innovative take on the story and transforms renowned songs into spectacular, show-stopping numbers, and lavish costumes and puppetry bring a fresh perspective to beloved characters.
We were lucky to attend a panel discussion with four members of the show’s production team: Director and Choreographer Connor Gallagher, Set Designer Jason Sherwood, Video designer Aaron Rhyne, and Writer Sara Wordsworth.
Re-imagining a tale as old as time
Drawing inspiration from the live-action film, the stage musical uses the scenic motif of a music box to guide spectators through the story. Set designer, Jason Sherwood (“Paint Your Wagon,” “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular”), worked in concert with video designer, Aaron Rhyne (“Frozen, A Musical Spectacular,” Broadway’s “Anastasia”), to create a transforming set that takes audiences on a magical journey through the music box, from Belle’s provincial French town to the Beast’s mysterious castle.
To bring “Beauty and the Beast” to the stage, Disney assembled an all-star creative team, led by director and choreographer Connor Gallagher (“Tangled: The Musical,” “Found”). Gallagher collaborated with writer Sara Wordsworth (“Frozen, A Musical Spectacular,” Broadway’s “In Transit”) and a talented collection of Broadway artists to create an imaginative, new approach to this iconic story.
Through a combination of high-definition projections, dynamic scenery and a little bit of Disney magic, this new interpretation of “Beauty and the Beast” creates a visual panorama that reaches beyond the stage and into the audience. Complementing the immersive set, lighting design by four-time Tony Award-nominated, Japhy Weideman, punctuates the powerful emotions of the classic tale.
Orchestrating a song as old as rhyme
“Beauty and the Beast” features songs from the original animated film’s award-winning soundtrack by acclaimed composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman. Complementing the score, the show also includes two of the new songs created for the live-action film by Menken and lyricist Tim Rice, “How Does a Moment Last Forever” and “Days in the Sun.” Enchanting arrangements and orchestrations by Matt Castle and Frank Galgano (“Into the Woods”) bring a unique musical identity to the production.
Beloved songs like “Belle,” “Something There” and “Beauty and the Beast” received a musical makeover that reflects the show’s stylized approach, while songs like “Gaston” and “Be Our Guest” leap to the stage as joyful and exuberant production numbers.
One of the most iconic songs in the Disney canon has been completely re-imagined for the stage. “Be Our Guest” is a multi-course French dinner rooted in imagination and fantasy, as rousing choreography and dazzling visual effects fill the stage during this full-fledged spectacle.
Unveiling the magic of the enchanted objects
Blurring the line between costuming and puppetry, costume designer Sarah Cubbage (Broadway’s “Skylight”) and puppet designer Jeff Conover joined forces to give life to the enchanted objects of “Beauty and the Beast.” Beloved characters like Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Cogsworth are realized in an unprecedented way, using innovative puppetry and elaborate costumes to bring these characters to life in their true scale.
The quality of the production will quickly have you forgetting you’re on a cruise ship and not watching a Broadway production. The biggest difference is the size of the cast, but you hardly notice it and the big production numbers are suitably big.
“Beauty and the Beast” debuted during the Disney Dream voyage departing Nov. 6, 2017, joining an incredible lineup of Broadway-style stage productions aboard the ship, including “The Golden Mickeys” and “Disney’s Believe.” The Disney Dream sails three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, FL.
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