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Exclusive Interview: Angela Lansbury Talks Singing 'Beauty & the Beast' Again & More

This past Sunday cast members from Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST reunited at a 25th anniversary screening presented by The Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Attending the special celebration held at Alice Tully Hall in New York City were original voice cast members Robby Benson (Beast), Paige O'Hara (Belle), Angela Lansbury (Mrs. Potts) and Richard White (Gaston). Below, watch video of legendary actress Lansbury performing the film's title song at the event, accompanied by the song's composer, Alan Menken.

After a special evening, where Lansbury performed the titular classic "Beauty and the Beast" with Alan Menken accompanying her on the piano, she talked with BroadwayWorld about the impact of the film.

Check out the full interview below where Lansbury discusses how special the reunion on Sunday was, why she thinks Beauty and the Beast remains such a classic and so much more!


I was honored and privileged to have been there for that screening Sunday night. What did that day mean to you?

Well, it was a huge surprise to be quite honest with you. I really have no idea there would be the rapturous applause of this huge audience at Alice Tully Hall. So many little children, little babies in the front row, you know, who chatted and kind of went on throughout the entire program after the movie finished. It was so intimate and it was like an enormous family affair. It was just marvelous and I just kind of allowed myself to enter into that spirit and in that way I was able to do what was required. It was quite extraordinary.

And reuniting that day with the cast of the film. Just watching you all on the red carpet then watching you sit together before the film started. What was that feeling like for you?

Oh it was really lovely and we all know each other from having worked together. We are very seldom of the sound stage at the same time because unfortunately when you are voicing these characters you are generally, unless there's an intimate scene between two characters which case they will record together, you mostly record on your own. So, it's very solitary to record the piece. I was no exception I was in a cubicle by myself and just talked. I didn't really get to interact with the other characters at all. The people always assume that you do, but you actually you don't. If there happens to be a scene where the two need to be together interacting together on the spot, as it were. So, being together as we were on the stage seeing each other as we are not as the characters, was quite original and different. It's always nice. We know each other for goodness sakes you know. I never get to see them except on these occasions. We've all gotten together in L.A you know a few months ago for just about the same thing, a little different.

You were perfection singing the title song again with Alan Menken. It was overwhelming for us as an audience member. What was that experience like for you? Doing the song all over again.

Well, I have to say it was the sort of original emotion that really took be through that. I wasn't sort of prepared for being the dramatic aspect of doing it under no circumstances with Alan Menken at the piano and this wonderful audience. So, I was pretty nervous. You know, one does ones best and you think 'Oh gosh I could've done so much better.' Here we were all these years later reenacting a moment in the movie and you know, working with an audience that have loved this for years. So, it was quite exciting and I was kind of shaken by the whole business.

You were perfection. I don't know where you put your nerves or whatever, but it's now across the world now. Millions of fans are watching that on social media and you are perfect.

Oh you are very generous to say that. I've had some wonderful responses from friends as you say, all over the world. From London to Ireland to Paris. Every friend has been in touch with me telling me they saw it. How they keep it up and saw it I have no idea with all the ways you do now on the iPad's and so on. I'm not very good at those things, so I don't know how to pick them up myself, but everybody else does.

I'd rather write a letter or a card I think still to this day.

Well, I'd love to get a letter or a card. These iPad's are not my thing.

Do you remember the first time you heard the song and what your initial reaction was when they sent you "Beauty and the Beast?"

Oh yes I do! I do! We were in the little music room in my house and I had a tape, in those days you had tapes, and we put it on the machine and I listened to it and I said to Peter, my husband, "You know, this little song really isn't my style." They wrote it, they kind of gave it a rock rhythm and I said, "I don't think that's quite me." So I told them, "I'll tell you what. Let me make a recording of how I would like to sing it." Knowing who the character was, knowing she was Mrs. Potts. I was going to try something here. So, I sent them back the recording of how I would sing it and they said, "Well, that's it!" They really liked it and this was Howard Ashman and Alan Menken talking to me on the phone and that's what we went with. So, when I went into studio to record it with the philharmonic it was a huge event. I knew how I wanted the character to sound and that's what we went with.

It's stunning. This film is beloved by generation after generation. Why do you think people have fallen in love with this film?

Well you know fairytales, really good fairy tales, it's hard to beat with children. There was a sophistication with this film too. By way of the lyrics, the story, the idea of the monster with this marvelous voice and sweetness even though he was growling and shouting at her. Nevertheless, it was something with the audience that they wanted to see it work out and for the happily ever after to be the last line of that piece. It certainly was. It was a fairytale in the truest sense and that's what we need today, particularly for children. My goodness gracious they must understand the value of a human relationship, not something they can tap out on a little pad and see on a small screen. They have to understand that the dynamics with a human are more wonderful than that. Human interaction.

Also dream. Children don't dream anymore.

No! How can they possibly dream when everything is spelled out for them. It's all there. It's a horrific thought that they are going to miss out on so much. That's why you said yourself, I hope they can leave their phones at home and just go out and live and breathe and talk and experience and love and hate and do all those things, but feel them. Not just watch them on a small screen.


Angela Lansbury has enjoyed a career spanning nearly 75 years in film, stage, and television. Winner of five Tony Awards, she made her Broadway debut in 1957 in Hotel Paradiso. In 1960, she returned to Broadway in Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey. In 1964, she starred in her first musical, Anyone Can Whistle, and in 1966, she triumphed as Mame, winning her first Tony. She won three more Tonys for Dear World (1968), Gypsy (1974), and Sweeney Todd (1979). After a 23-year hiatus, she returned to Broadway in 2007 in Terrence McNally's Deuce. In 2009 she won her fifth Tony Award as Madame Arcati in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. She also appeared as Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music (2010), and in Gore Vidal's The Best Man (2012). In 2013, she appeared in the acclaimed Australian tour of Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy, with James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines, a production which was filmed for cinemas.

She has appeared in over 60 films starting with Gaslight at age 17 (first Academy Award nomination), The Portrait of DorIan Gray (second Academy Award nomination), and The Manchurian Candidate (third Academy Award nomination). She was the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney's Beauty and the Beast and more recently, she co-starred in Emma Thompson's Nanny McPhee and with Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper's Penguins.

From 1984 through 1996 she starred as Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, the longest-running detective drama series in TV history, for which she won four of her six Golden Globe Awards.


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