ABOUT THE PLAY
While the traditional French fairytale La Belle et la Bête dates back to 1740, with hundreds of translations worldwide, the basic plot and themes of the story can be traced across centuries and cultures, spanning the globe and dating back perhaps as many as 4000 years ago. The 1991 Disney film, on which the musical is based, made Academy Award history as the first animated feature film to be nominated for Best Picture and the winning awards for Best Song and Best Original Score. The Broadway musical, which opened in 1994, featured seven new songs added with the intent of bringing more nuance and depth to the character of the Beast and richness to Belle’s journey. It ran for 13 years and 5,461 performances, closing in 2007 to make way for a production of The Little Mermaid. The musical was nominated for nine Tony Awards. In London, it won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. It has been performed in more than 30 countries, reaching over 35 million theatergoers. While a U.S. touring production of Beauty and the Beast just concluded this past summer, Disney is nearing the release date of a live action version of the story in March of 2017.
A young prince is ungracious to an old beggar woman who warns the prince not to be fooled by appearances, as true beauty lies within. Upon a second rejection the old woman is revealed to truly be a beautiful enchantress who casts a spell on the prince turning him into a hideous Beast, and his servants into various household objects. The only way he can break the spell is to learn to love another and earn their love in return. A remnant and reminder of the spell is left in the form of an enchanted rose, which will bloom for many years, marking the time the Beast has left to love and earn the love of another.
Ten years later, a beautiful young woman named Belle is dreaming of a life full of adventure just like those she reads about in her books. A life very different than that she lives in her poor French provincial town. Belle has also attracted the attention of Gaston who admires her, primarily for her beauty and not her intellect. Belle’s eccentric father, Maurice, is putting the finishing touches on his latest invention and heads off to present it at the fair. He soon finds himself lost in the woods and stalked by vicious wolves. Seeking shelter in the prince’s nearby castle, he is welcomed by the transformed servants: Lumiere, a candelabra; Cogsworth, a clock; Babette, a feather duster; Mrs. Potts, a tea pot; and her son, Chip. The welcome is short-lived as the Beast discovers Maurice’s arrival and orders him to be locked away in the dungeon for trespassing.
In town, Belle has rejected Gaston’s proposal just as Gaston’s bumbling sidekick LeFou returns from the woods wearing the scarf Belle had knitted for Maurice. Realizing her father must be in danger, she heads to the woods in search of him and comes upon the castle. Finding him locked in the dungeon she pleads with the Beast to let her father go free. He agrees, but on the condition that she remain there, forever. She agrees and the Beast shows her out of the dungeon into her new home, forbidding her from going into the castle’s mysterious West Wing.
Following a splendid dinner, Cogsworth and Lumiere give Belle a tour of the castle. Sneaking into the forbidden West Wing, she is mesmerized to find a rose protected by a bell jar. As she is about to reach for it, the Beast appears and furiously orders her to get out. Fearing for her life, she flees from the castle and the Beast laments that he will likely remain in his monstrous form forever. Having run from the castle into the woods, Belle is soon surrounded by wolves. The Beast suddenly appears and rescues her but he is injured in the fight. Belle helps him back to the castle where she nurses his injuries and their friendship is born. As a thank you gift, the Beast opens his massive library to Belle. Meanwhile Gaston plots to use Maurice’s eccentricity as a means to lock him in an asylum in order to blackmail Belle into marrying him.
Back at the castle, the servants sense a growing love between Belle and the Beast and are hopeful the spell will soon be broken – and they will be human again. After a romantic dinner the Beast and Belle dance together in the ballroom. About to confess his love, the Beast asks if she is happy there with him. She says she is happy but misses her father. The Beast produces a magic mirror that allows Belle to see her father and she discovers he is sick and lost in the woods, attempting to save her from the Beast. The Beast releases her from her imprisonment, giving her the magic mirror to look back and remember him and she tearfully departs.
Belle finds Maurice and helps him back to town telling him of the change she’s come to see in the Beast and in herself. Upon their arrival home they find the townspeople have gathered into a mob, led by Gaston, prepared to declare Maurice insane and commit him to the asylum because of his claim that a beast lives in a castle in the woods. To prove her father’s sanity, Belle shows the people the Beast using the magic mirror and Gaston whips the fearful mob into a destructive frenzy, bent on killing the Beast. The townspeople storm the castle and are fought off by the servants but Gaston breaks through and finds the dejected Beast in his tower unwilling to fight to save his lonely life. Just as Gaston is about to unleash a fatal blow, Belle arrives and the Beast, his hope revived by Belle’s return, defeats Gaston. The Beast spares Gaston, but he treacherously stabs the Beast from behind just before falling to his death. Just before the last rose pedal falls Belle proclaims her love and weeps over the Beast’s seemingly lifeless body. Then something miraculous and wonderful occurs.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Alan Menken - Music
Alan Menken’s music and lyrics have become an integral part of the fabric of our lives since his first works were produced nearly 40 years ago. His stage musicals include God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, Atina: Evil Queen of the Galaxy, Real Life Funnies, Little Shop of Horrors, Kicks, The Dream on Royal Street, Beauty and The Beast, A Christmas Carol, Weird Romance, King David, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Leap of Faith, Newsies, Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Song and score credits for film musicals include The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, Newsies, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, The Shaggy Dog, Home on the Range, Enchanted, Tangled and Mirror Mirror. Individual songs for films include Rocky V - “The Measure of a Man,” Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – “My Christmas Tree,” Life With Mikey – “Cold Enough to Snow,” Noel – “Winter Light,” and Captain America: First Avenger – “Star Spangled Man.” Television credits include writing songs for Sesame Street, the ABC mini-series Lincoln, a musical episode of The Neighbors and the ABC series Galavant. His chart topping songs have included “Beauty and the Beast,” “A Whole New World,” “Colors of the Wind,” and “Go the Distance.” Winner of the 2012 Tony and Drama Desk awards for his score for Newsies, he has won more Academy Awards than any other living individual, including eight Oscars® with four for Best Score and four for Best Song; 11 Grammy® Awards (including Song of the Year for “A Whole New World”); seven Golden Globes; London’s Evening Standard Award; the Olivier Award; the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Drama Desk Award. Other notable achievements include induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Billboard’s number one single (“A Whole New World”) and number one album (Pocahontas). In 2001 he received the distinction of being named a Disney Legend. He was awarded two doctorates in Fine Arts from New York University and the North Carolina School of the Arts. In 2010 he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Alan’s upcoming works include a stage production of A Bronx Tale, a City Center’s Encores series production of God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, a live-action film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast (released in March, 2017), a Sony animated movie titled Sausage Party, and an as-yet-untitled film musical project at Universal Pictures.
Howard Ashman - Lyrics
Best known as a pivotal creative mind behind the renaissance of Disney animation and his work on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Beauty and The Beast (which is dedicated to, “Our friend, Howard Ashman, who gave a Mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul...”), Ashman’s first love was theater. Ashman was a founder of off-off-Broadway’s renowned WPA Theater, where he conceived, wrote and directed God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, as well as the classic musical, Little Shop of Horrors (both music by Alan Menken). In 1986, he wrote and directed the Broadway musical Smile (music by Marvin Hamlisch). Lamented as a lost treasure of the 1980’s theater scene, Smile remains popular on High School and College campuses throughout the country. Howard Ashman died in 1991 from complications of AIDS. For more information, please visit www.howardashman.com.
Tim Rice - Lyrics
Tim Rice has worked in music, theater, and film since 1965, when he met Andrew Lloyd Webber, a fellow struggling songwriter. Rather than pursue Tim’s ambitions to write rock or pop songs, they turned their attention to Andrew’s obsession - musical theater. Their first collaboration, The Likes Of Us (lyrics by Tim, music by Andrew), was an unsuccessful show based on the life of Dr. Barnardo, the Victorian philanthropist. Their next three works together were much more successful: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita. Tim has also worked with other distinguished popular composers such as Elton John (The Lion King, Aida), Alan Menken (Aladdin, King David, Beauty and the Beast), and Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (Chess). From Here to Eternity, with music by newcomer Stuart Brayson, coproduced with Lee Menzies, directed by Tamara Harvey, and with book by Bill Oakes, premiered in the West End at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2013. He formed his own cricket team in 1973 and was president of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2002. In 2013, he wrote and presented a 52-part series for BBC Radio 2, American Pie, a trawl through the music and musicians of every American state.
Linda Woolverton - Book
Linda Woolverton’s writing credits include the screenplay for the animated feature film Beauty and the Beast (Golden Globe winner and Academy Award Best Picture nominee); the screenplay (shared) for Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey; screenplay (shared) for the animated feature film The Lion King; the book for the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast (Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical, winner 1998 Olivier Award Best New Musical); and book (shared) for Elton John and Tim Rice’s Broadway musical Aida. She has written two young-adult novels, Star-Wind and Running Before the Wind, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from California State University Long Beach and a Master’s degree in Theatre from California State University Fullerton. Linda is currently involved in writing and producing film projects for Miramax and Revolution studios. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Lee Flicker and daughter Keaton.