It’s a tale as old as time, but audiences a bit younger will enjoy a short renaissance of the beloved Disney animated film while “Beauty and the Beast” is on the Overture Center stage.
It’s been two decades since the film’s release, so for those who need a refresher: A beautiful, smart and misunderstood woman, Belle, is held hostage by the Beast in an enchanted castle filled with talking household items. As the Beast’s temperament eases, a love story blossoms. The show opened Tuesday, Dec. 6, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 11.
Actress Julia Hosack recently celebrated her 600th performance as maternal teapot Mrs. Potts. She’s been touring since January 2010.
“It’s magical — high energy choreography, dazzling costumes — it’ll transport you from wherever you are and whatever is happening in your life into a magical world,” she said.
Hosack, 26, fondly remembers her first impressions of the story after seeing it as a child.
“When I was younger … it didn’t speak to me how it does now. I was more about ‘Be our Guest’ and the big numbers, the exciting color, how funny Lumiere was, how I wanted to be Belle,” she said.
The character of Belle provided audiences of all ages with a new kind of Disney princess — she had brown hair, brown eyes and most importantly, she loved to read.
Like many of those who first encountered the film at a young age, Hosack has found more humanistic themes in the fantastical tale, beyond the showy numbers and animated objects’ antics.
“No matter how a person looks, it’s these unlikely characters coming together to work past the outward appearance to find what’s in someone,” she said.
An adaptation of the animated film, the traveling production is a reinvention of the Broadway show, which ran for 13 years. According to Hosack, the show’s original creative team licensed the traveling show, and the production now features new choreography and new scenes, as well as five truckloads’ worth of vivacious costumes and sets.
“The costumes are gorgeous — we literally have a man with candlesticks, Cogsworth looks like a clock — it’s not a literal translation from the animated film, of course, but it’s a very beautiful transition,” Hosack said.
One of the most notable differences between the Disney film and the Broadway show is the latter’s inclusion of “Human Again,” a song cut from the movie. As Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and the rest of the gang watch Belle and the Beast developing their connection, they reminisce about their lives before the spell and the possibilities of the spell being broken.
“They can see their futures as human again,” Hosack said. “I think it’s one of the most powerful songs in the show.”
Music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and the story by Linda Woolverton provide a great deal of the show’s magic. Classic songs like “Belle,” “Gaston,” “Be Our Guest,” “Something There” and “Beauty and the Beast” are memorable. But the underlying score also prompts a strong emotional tie to the audience, comparable to Menken’s work on other Disney scores like “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid.”
Now, a new generation can experience the story. In addition to Hosack, the cast includes Emily Behny (Belle), Dane Agostinis (Beast) and Michael Haller (Lumiere).
“It’s so wonderful to watch the kids that are mesmerized in the audience,” Hosack said. “You can see the little girls in their Belle dresses just captured by the whole show.”