BWW Feature: The Original Stage and Screen Cast of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: Where are They Now?
The first BEAUTY AND THE BEAST came out in 1991 and starred both new and veteran actors and actresses. The Disney classic was so successful it transferred to the stage only three years later and had an exceptional run on Broadway for over 10 years. The talented actors of both stage and screen have gone on to add other great roles to their list of credits.
After appearing on Broadway in SHOW BOAT and as a replacement in THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, Paige O'Hara's breakout role was as Belle in Disney's original BEAUTY AND THE BEAST movie. She has shown her loyalty to Belle by voicing the iconic character in many other Disney shows, shorts and games. O'Hara stayed with Disney and made a cameo appearance as Angela in ENCHANTED, which starred Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey. She also returned to Broadway in 1995 as a replacement Fantine in LES MIS.
Belle's Broadway counterpart was originated by Susan Egan, who has also been in CABART and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE and more on Broadway. After being nominated for a Tony Award for playing Belle, she stuck with Disney, and made her transfer to the Disney big screen in Hercules when she voiced Meg. More recently, she has voiced Rose Quartz on the Cartoon Network show STEVEN UNIVERSE.
The monstrous Beast was voiced by Robby Benson, who has created success for himself through both acting and directing. In the '90s, he directed episodes for both FRIENDS and SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH, where he also had a small acting role. Benson also directed episodes from Ellen Degeneres' sitcom ELLEN.
Benson's Broadway equivalent was played by Terrence Mann, who at that point was already a Tony-nominated Broadway star for his work as Javert in the original Broadway production of LES MISERABLES. Mann was again nominated for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and in 2013 for the revival of PIPPIN. He also originated the role of Run Tum Tugger in CATS on Broadway.
Mann has also been seen on Broadway in THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, LENNON, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, FINDING NEVERLAND, TUCK EVERLASTING and more. He didn't stop at just Broadway though. Mann has accumulated a long list of TV and movie credits as well, including the film adaptation of A CHORUS LINE, and roles in the CRITTER movie series, the NBC show SMASH and the Netflix show SENSE8.
One of the most notable actresses that took part of this famous Disney franchise was Angela Lansbury, or Mrs. Potts, who also sang the classic "Beauty and the Beast" song. Like the other actors in this successful franchise, Lansbury has had a decades long career on both stage and screen before and after the film.
A five-time Tony-winner, Lansbury originated numerous iconic Broadway roles, including the devilish pie-maker Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY TODD. She also led revivals of GYPSY, THE KING AND I, BLITHE SPIRIT, and more. She also starred in her own TV show MURDER SHE WROTE and will be in the upcoming MARY POPPINS RETURNS.
Lansbury and her Broadway counterpart had a lot in common. Beth Fowler first followed Lansbury's footsteps when she starred as Mrs. Lovett in SWEENEY TODD before taking the role of Mrs. Potts in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Fowler's other Broadway credits include PETER PAN, THE BOY FROM OZ and INHERIT THE WIND. Netflix users may also recognize her from the hit show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK as Sister Jane Ingalls.
These extraordinary actors have accomplished many things during their years in the entertainment industry and since their iconic roles in this children's classic, and will continue to do great things in the future.
In the animated film, the role of the candlestick Lumiere was played by the legendary Jerry Orbach. Though many now think of him as detective Lenny Briscoe on LAW & ORDER, before his 12-year run as the grizzled NYPD detective, he was one of Broadway's quintessential song and dance men. After originating the role of El Gallo Off-Broadway in THE FANTASTICKS, Orbach was nominated for a Tony for the 1965 revival of GUYS AND DOLLS. He then went on to win the award for originating the role of Chuck Baxter in PROMISES, PROMISES, and was again nominated for originating the role of Billy Flynn in CHICAGO and Julian Marsh in 42ND STREET. Orbach continued voicing Lumiere for Disney up through 2002. He died from Prostate cancer in 2004.
The new BEAUTY AND THE BEAST movie premiered on March 17, and stars Emma Watson (Belle), Dan Stevens (Beast), Luke Evans (Gaston), Josh Gad (LeFou), Ewan McGregor (Lumiere), Ian McKellen (Cogsworth) and Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts).