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The original production of Beauty and the Beast

Theatrefanboy1
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With some of the original cast on stars in the house and serious talks of a revival (seriously can we get Susan Egan back. Her voice holds up so well. I believe she could easily pass )
But Im curious to hear from people who saw the original show at the Palace. What it was like. Who was in your cast? The talk at the time? How was it scaled down after? Anything. Its one of those shows for me I wish I had seen in its original run.

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Huss417
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Not knocking Susan Egan but she is now 50. She was 22 when she originated the role on Broadway. Not sure what you think she could now pass for.

"I hope your Fanny is bigger than my Peter." Mary Martin to Ezio Pinza opening night of Fanny.
Updated On: 8/27/20 at 02:48 PM
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bwaylyric
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Madame de la Grande Bouche?

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So, I never saw the show at the Palace, but I did see the original Canadian production in Toronto (one of the first productions of the show outside the US). It was incredible. It was the very first musical I saw, and I remember just being in awe of the show. The design I always thought was very ingenious, and very much like what I would have expected the live version to be. However, after hearing on Stars in the House the other night, Disney was worried that people would feel almost betrayed if the movie didn't exactly come to live in front of them I understand some of the criticism over the show. But to me, it was lush, lavish, and beautiful. I think it was great. I can tell you I worn the crap out of my cassette of the cast album.

Something to point out is that I then saw the national tour that came to Toronto about 6 years later, the show seemed different. I don't believe it had the whole huge castle set that the original had. Just some pieces of it. I remember there being a fireplace down stage right with what looked like arrows sticking out of the top of it. The show received lacklustre reviews upon its return, party because when it cam back, The Lion King was playing in Toronto and everyone saw what Disney could do, and kept making a partly unfair comparison. 

Jump to July 2007, and I saw the final Broadway company weeks before the closing. I remember people saying on these boards that once the show moved from the Palace, it was cheapened. The only think I can say to that is I felt like you had taken a widescreen movie, and squished it to full screen. It seemed cramped. 

Two other interesting productions I saw of the show were the Networks tour from a few years ago which, had the whole creative team come back, and looked (and the cast I saw) seemed like it should be at the theme park. It made it like a community theatre, which I find weird that the original would let that happened. The other was the original Paris production produced by Disney and Stage Entertainment. They had new designers (David Gallo who won a Tony for the Drowsy Chaperone sets) was the scenic designer but I can't remember anyone else. This was the same production that played all around Europe in the early 2010's. Again, it wasn't a great design (Gallo did use that "earl gray" purple/blue/gray that they used a lot in the original production, but it still seemed to be lacking compared to the original. 

I am interested in what a new revival will bring seeing as 2 of the Disney redesigns seem to miss the mark. I wonder how much will rely on the live action movie. Also, looking a what is currently on the cruise ship, I worry. I love puppets, but I don't know about the objects being puppets. Although when they turn fully into objects, its cool. It was so interesting to hear the story from Susan Egan about the best version/run of the show Jeffery Katzenberg ever saw was the last run through without costumes, make up etc. He said you really saw the people, and the humanity. 

"The 54th Street[theatre] had a rep as. . .where old musicals went to die." -Smaxie
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Susan Egan reprised her Belle in 2018. Um, no.  She looks like Belle’s mother masquerading as Belle.

The original production of Beauty and the Beast

Theatrefanboy1
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Huss417 said: "Not knocking Susan Egan but she is now 50. She was 22 when she originated the role on Broadway. Not sure what you think she could now pass for."

Well she’s still singing in the original key and I believe looks fittingly youthful 

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HeyMrMusic
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The production at the Palace was my first Broadway experience. I sat in the center of one of the first few rows of the mezzanine. To me, it was magical. It made me fall in love with Broadway.

The cast was stacked: Kerry Butler as Belle, Chuck Wagner as the Beast, Marc Kudisch as Gaston, Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Chip, I believe Beth Fowler and Gary Beach were still there as Mrs. Potts and Lumiere.

It was the perfect first Broadway show. A spectacle with performances and orchestra to match. I think Disney got it right with their first venture on Broadway. I very much welcome a revival.

Susan Egan is wonderful, but she would be too old for Belle now. Maybe Mrs. Potts? She could play the mother of a young son (Chip).
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Well she’s still singing in the original key and I believe looks fittingly youthful"

Yes, she will play a fine Mrs.Potts.

Would love to see Ashley Park, Samantha Marie Ware or Renee Rapp in the revival as Belle. 

 

Jarethan
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I saw the show on Broadway shortly after it opened.  It was the last show I saw before moving from the New York area.  I thought it was entertaining but very 'bloated'.  I am sure that I will sound like a pretentious anti-Disney snob -- which I am not -- but it really did feel assembly line to me.  I just did not feel there was anything magical about it.  I guess I would say that this was a case for me of the whole not being as good as the sum of its parts, as there were some terrific moments, e.g., Be Our Guest.  I knew that it was a hit, would run for a long time, but I never thought it would become the phenomenal that it was.  For me, the original cartoon movie was significantly better.

I should acknowledge that i have not loved any of the Disney cartoon-based stage shows.  All had good moments, and The Lion King had moments of greatness.  For me, there has not been a single one as good as the 90 minute cartoon on which it was based. 

 

 

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The original production at the Palace was the first broadway show I saw, in 1995. I was theater kid on a theater trip with my drama class and it was magic. It was exactly what I thought Broadway was. The show will forever have a very special place in my heart.
bwaylvsong1
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HeyMrMusic, I saw it on Broadway in 1996 with that cast (it was my first Broadway show, as well), except I had then-standby Steve Blanchard as the Beast. I saw it a week or so before it closed over a decade later and got Blanchard as the Beast again! I did notice that the set and effects were downsized in the transfer from the Palace to the Lunt. While the show at the Lunt was wonderful, the magic at the Palace was unmatchable and the perfect experience for a first Broadway show.
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Alma Cuervo (replacement Mrs. Potts) totally busted me for filming (pictures, no flash) on front row when I saw the show May 2005. She was shooting daggers with her eyes during Human Again. I felt about 3 inches tall and vowed to never take pictures again....(except that one more time when Patti LuPone yelled at me during GYPSY...JK!!) 

I saw it twice at the Lunt; with Brooke Tansley as Belle/ Blanchard as Beast ..... & then with Christy Carlson Romano playing Belle and again Blanchard as the Beast.

Loved the interior of the Lunt. Does anyone know what the interior/lobby looked like during the original run at the Palace? I'm just trying to picture if it was classical theatre style or if it had been DISNEYd up for their first dive onto Broadway.

I didn't care for the "storybook tour". That stage floor reminded me sooooo much of the junkyard from CATS. Not about it. 

Was anyone able to see the original production with David Elder as the Beast? That man's voice makes me melt! 

and it wouldn't be fair to mention this amazing show (and without question the BEST vocal placement for a BELTER - EVER!) Anneliese van der Pol singing A Change In Me on "that site"

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First time for me was the original London company, Earl Carpenter was on for the beast, and for some reason, Belle was swapped out mid way through the first half (with a 20 min pause). I was taken with the design and it was somewhat magical.

Saw the tour in Toronto in 2006 i think, had a 3rd row seat, and what stuck with me was that they seemed to try to hammer home the fact that the longer it goes on, the more the people turn into objects, like really harp on it over and over to the point where it was excessive. The look was the same, Grant Norman was amazing, but like most tours I always struggle with the fact that you are putting a smaller version of a show in a much larger house and it gets lost.

My only concern is that with today's market, would they accept some of those costumes? like a life size teapot? and salt shakers? or are they able to find a better way to do them. I saw that the cruise ship version used puppets.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/27199361@N08/ Phantom at the Royal Empire Theatre
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Justin D said: "My only concern is that with today's market, would they accept some of those costumes? like a life size teapot? and salt shakers? or are they able to find a better way to do them. I saw that the cruise ship version used puppets."

In the musical, the Beast’s servants are still human but are slowly turning into their respective enchanted objects. That’s how they got away with human-sized teapots, etc.

I remember the interior of the Palace being gorgeous. Everything about the production there seemed a little more magical than when the show was at the Lunt-Fontanne.

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Justin D said: "My only concern is that with today's market, would they accept some of those costumes? like a life size teapot? and salt shakers? or are they able to find a better way to do them. I saw that the cruise ship version used puppets."

So if the teapot was regular sized BUT still could talk, sing and dance...that would be fine...

Matthew Dotzman
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Hi everyone!

 I was Chip in the Broadway production. I was the only Chip to perform in both productions at the Palace and the Lunt. It was a one in a lifetime experience for me and happy to answer any questions. The version at the Lunt was scaled down, some ensemble track/swing tracks were cut. Some of the magical elements were also scaled down -- no fireworks, no candles coming up from the stage at the end of BOG...They also used the National Tour Castle set, so that was a bit different. 

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There were no pyrotechnics at the Lunt?

Matthew Dotzman
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Correct - they replaced the pyrotechnics (Enchantress fireball, BOG champange exploding, and end explosions when Potts/Lumiere/Cogsworth turn human) with large puffs of dry ice/fog at the Lunt.

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There was no enchantress fireball?!? Hard to imagine that scene without the fireball. Not even a regular flash gun? Goodness.

sfarr
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I've only seen clips of the original cast. Why was the acting so presentational? I know it's musical theater versus realistic acting, and it has to play to the back of the house, AND it is Disney...but I've seen clips of other Broadway musicals and the acting/movement didn't seem as large. 

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Susan Egan mentioned in the interview that since this was Disneys first venture into Broadway, the company executives were scared that audiences would lose trust in the disney brand if performances were not 100% like the animated film on stage. Which contributes to the over the top animated performances by the original cast and the casts that followed. They at the time did not trust the authentic humanity of the characters. However, looking at how Disney Theatrical evolved from this project they have sinced accalmated to the culture of Broadway and Musical Theatre. The look and taste of Lion King was far from its animated counterparts. It is fascinating that all sorts of divisions and segments of the company were working on Beauty. I often wonder what future Broadway ventures would've looked like had they not formed Disney Theatrical.

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Matthew Dotzman said: "Hi everyone!

I was Chip in the Broadway production. I was the only Chip to perform in both productions at the Palace and the Lunt. It was a one in a lifetime experience for me and happy to answer any questions. The version at the Lunt was scaled down, some ensemble track/swing tracks were cut. Some of the magical elements were also scaled down -- no fireworks, no candles coming up from the stage at the end of BOG...They also used the National Tour Castle set, so that was a bit different.
"

The candles at the proscenium and the four bottles of champagne were insane. Everything felt watered down after the run at the Palace.

Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
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I saw it at TUTS, pre-Broadway, as well as the OBC and when it moved to the Lunt.

Pre-Broadway and OBC were special. Broadway hadn't seen anything quite like that before and it was just magical on a level that the British invasion shows couldn't pull off.

It scaled down considerably. Without the whole bag of Disney tricks, it's not a strong enough show to stand on its own. If they're doing it again, they need to do it big.
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Updated On: 8/29/20 at 09:45 PM