Today In Disney History ~ April 18th
Beauty and the Beast is a musical with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and book by Linda Woolverton. Adapted from Walt Disney Pictures’ Academy Award-winning 1991 animated musical film of the same name – which in turn had been based on the classic French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont –Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a cold-hearted prince who has been magically transformed into an unsightly creature as punishment for his selfish ways. To revert back into his true human form, the Beast must first earn the love of a bright, beautiful young woman whom he has imprisoned in his enchanted castle before it is too late.
Critics immediately noted the film’s Broadway musical potential when it was first released in 1991, who hailed it as one of the year’s finest musicals, encouraging Disney CEO Michael Eisner to venture into Broadway. All eight songs from the animated film were reused in the musical, including a resurrected musical number which had been cut from the motion picture. Original songwriter Menken composed six new songs for the production alongside lyricist Rice, replacing Ashman who had died during production of the film. Woolverton, who had written the film’s screenplay, adapted her own work into the musical’s libretto, and specifically expanded upon the characterization of the Beast. Woolverton also expanded the storylines of the castle staff from servants who had already been transformed into household objects into humans who were gradually turning into inanimate objects. Costumes were designed by Ann Hould-Ward, who based her creations on both the animators’ original designs as well as the Rococo art movement after researching how clothing and household objects looked during the 18th century.
After completing tryouts in Houston, Beauty and the Beast premiered on Broadway on April 18, 1994, starring Susan Egan and Terrence Mann as the eponymous Belle and Beast, respectively. The musical opened to mixed reviews from theatre critics, but was a massive commercial success and well received by audiences. Beauty ran on Broadway for 5,461 performances between 1994 and 2007, becoming Broadway’s tenth longest-running production in history. The musical has grossed more than $1.4 billion worldwide and played in thirteen countries and 115 cities.
For more on Beauty and the Beast on Broadway visit our From Mouse To Marquee Series!
From Mouse to Marquee: Act 1, Scene 2: The Beauty and her Beast take the Stage
From Mouse to Marquee: Act 1, Scene 3: The Cast of Beauty and the Beast
From Mouse to Marquee: Act 1, Scene 4 – The Soundtrack to a Tale as Old as Time
TMSM Today in Graphic by Sherry Rinaldi DeHart; Wiki
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