Was it a good decision to cast Toni Braxton in Beauty and The Beast?

Gleeker
Understudy
joined:1/2/14
I was listening to some audio clips of her performance as Belle and I think she sounds horrible. Why Belle? I have no problem with a Black woman playing Belle, but Toni just seemed horribly miscast. Did anyone here see her Live? What did you think?
MrMidwest
Broadway Legend
joined:2/8/05
I mean, her voice is really low. You either like it or you don't.

I liked her "A Change in Me" but I don't know if I'd want to hear her do the whole show.

Still, injecting some diversity into the show was a good thing, and she looked really beautiful in the costumes.
"The gods who nurse this universe think little of mortals' cares. They sit in crowds on exclusive clouds and laugh at our love affairs. I might have had a real romance if they'd given me a chance. I loved him, but he didn't love me. I wanted him, but he didn't want me. Then the gods had a spree and indulged in another whim. Now he loves me, but I don't love him." - Cole Porter
Phillytheatreguy10
Leading Actor
joined:7/22/12
Perhaps the one good thing to happen from her performance is the addition of the song "A Change in Me" which I believe was added for her. I too have no problem with a black Belle if her vocals are right for the part, but it would appear they bring Toni in to sell tickets because when she was in Aida they lowered the keys for her. I'm sure she will be great in After Midnight, which is more suitable for her abilities.
Gleeker
Understudy
joined:1/2/14
I am all for Diversity and I like the "Change in me" song but if they wanted an African American to play belle, why couldn't they just have gotten someone who can actually sing the score in the right key? Belle doesn't sound good in the Low register
dramamama611
Broadway Legend
joined:12/4/07
they change keys for perfomers ALL THE TIME. Heck, they even change keys withing a run for the same performer...when they are sick, or growing up (the Billy Elliot Boys).

If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
Gleeker
Understudy
joined:1/2/14
I am well aware that keys are changed during a Broadway Run ( I was up for a part in Matilda so I know) But why change the keys so drastically? Obviously Toni couldn't sing the role as High as the other belles so why even cast her? The truth is, she only got the role because she is famous and if you had a chorus girl going on as Belle and she asked to change the keys as drastically as Toni wanted as toni did, then that girl would have gotten her ass laughed at.

Updated On: 1/4/14 at 11:38 AM
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
That's sort of the point. You make concessions for stars, you don't make them just for jobbers.
adamgreer
Broadway Legend
joined:3/18/05
Putting aside the fact that she was awful in the role (she was also terrible in Aida)...

I hated how they slutted her up. They changed all the iconic (Tony Award winning, to boot) costumes to give Belle more "sass." Sleeves were shortened, neck lines were lowered, etc. I'm not sure whose idea it was- Braxton's or the producers, but it was a terrible idea. Same thing for her line readings- was she directed to play Belle "sassy" or was that her decision? Either way...both were terrible ideas.

The one positive, as was already mentioned- we got A Change in Me out of it.

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them"
~Walt Disney

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
~Walt Disney

My name is neither "adam" nor "greer."
Gleeker
Understudy
joined:1/2/14
Gross! I hated her new Belle Dress. She tried to play it sassy? ugh what a gross turn for such a magical production. That poor audience
candydog2
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/07
I didn't think the costumes looked too bad, and the lower key songs aren't terrible, but from the audio clips I'm not keen on her breathy, sultry speaking voice.
Kev
Broadway Star
joined:7/29/03
She tried to play it sassy?

Braxton's Belle gave the Beast "the hand" at one point. Her casting as Belle didn't work for me.

That said, I adored her Aida.

broadway86
Broadway Legend
joined:10/8/03
Braxton's Belle gave the Beast "the hand" at one point. Her casting as Belle didn't work for me.

This, in a nutshell.
http://robbyhorror.blogspot.com
sephyr
Featured Actor
joined:11/21/10
But isn't it nice to have a different take on the role? I mean I could see if she were playing Cinderella sassy but Belle has an edge to her naturally, at least what I've seen from the movie and gleamed from the songs (The song Belle especially says sass to me), so I don't think injecting a bit of sass is too farfetched for the charater.
Gleeker
Understudy
joined:1/2/14
Dollypop
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
Do you think that Ethel Merman or Martha Raye sang in the same keys that Carol Channing did in HELLO, DOLLY? All of the costumes were altered for each star as well. Nobody complained about it then, so why are people soing so now?

I ask you!
"Long live God!" (GODSPELL)
Visceral_Fella
Broadway Star
joined:1/18/12
Gleeker, "the hand" as in "talk to the hand". Think wrist roll, then palm out toward the other. Usually performed with an optional neck snap and stiffening or eye roll.



Updated On: 1/4/14 at 06:37 PM
trentsketch
Broadway Legend
joined:6/25/09
I'm surprised they changed the keys. Toni could have just sung the whole part down the octave and saved them some trouble.
MrMidwest
Broadway Legend
joined:2/8/05
Deborah really seemed to bring everything needed to the role.
Deborah Gibson - Home
"The gods who nurse this universe think little of mortals' cares. They sit in crowds on exclusive clouds and laugh at our love affairs. I might have had a real romance if they'd given me a chance. I loved him, but he didn't love me. I wanted him, but he didn't want me. Then the gods had a spree and indulged in another whim. Now he loves me, but I don't love him." - Cole Porter
FANtomFollies
Featured Actor
joined:4/5/12
any images that show the changes in the belle costumes?
PB ENT.
Broadway Legend
joined:6/11/03
No. I also agree with Adamgreer on most counts. I was fortunate to see the original production with Terry Mann, Susan Egan and then again with Chuck Wagner and Andrea McArdle. Both Belles were perfectly suited for the role, imo, not to mention the amazing male leads too. It was far more than Braxton's voice being "different".
It was her whole persona as a more 'worldly' Belle. To me the Belle character was purposely created to be spunky, free spirited and longing for adventure but had a sweetness and innocence about her. Braxton was the opposite of all these qualities. I also wasn't a fan of her AIDA as much as the OBC.

They should not have changed the character as drastically as they did, imo, and should have sought an actress that was better suited to a Disney-style princess.

www.pbentertainmentinc.com BWW regional writer "Philadelphia/South Jersey"
Updated On: 1/4/14 at 08:46 PM
justincharacter
Broadway Star
joined:6/11/13
Original:

http://www.freewebs.com/broadwaygurl/SusanEganandBurkeMoses.bmp

Toni Braxton:


FYI, the finale dressed wasn't altered as much as the "Belle" costume









Updated On: 1/4/14 at 08:55 PM
Gleeker
Understudy
joined:1/2/14
"Do you think that Ethel Merman or Martha Raye sang in the same keys that Carol Channing did in HELLO, DOLLY? All of the costumes were altered for each star as well. Nobody complained about it then, so why are people soing so now?"

Are you comparing Toni Braxton to The Merm? LOL give me a break. Carol and Merman made it work, that's the difference.
theaterkidsteacher
Swing
joined:1/4/14
ugh- I saw this. It was my daughter (who was 4 1/2) 's first broadway show and we sat 4th row center. It was close enough to see the disdain on the faces of the other actors. They changed the keys but that didn't make the songs sound any better- the music (except for the added song) was just a bad fit for her voice (and her acting was terrible.) No, to answer your question, not a good decision.
JohnyBroadway
Broadway Star
joined:4/10/12
A change in me really didn't become quite the song until Ashley Brown joined the cast. They really spiffed it up for her.
candydog2
Featured Actor
joined:8/11/07
There's a clip on youtube of a one of Braxton's TV appearances during the run. She's in full Belle costume and sings "A Change in Me". It's very difficult to watch actually. Looooots of vocal ornamentation accompanied by hand gestures - basically Belle in a smoky jazz club givin' it soul.

darreyl102
Broadway Legend
joined:8/23/08

That whole performance and strip tease after...

Darreyl with an L!

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