Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Disney's Beauty and the Beast logo (from official website, (c) Disney)

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast logo (from official website, (c) Disney)

This classic was the first Disney animated feature to be made into a live stage musical by Disney Theatricals, and was a storming success.

Directed by: Robert Jess Roth
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Howard Ashman & Tim Rice
Book: Linda Woolverton
Scenic Design: Stan Meyer
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Costume Design: Anne Hould-Ward
Choreography: Matt West
Illusion Design: Jim Steinmeyer
Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions

Palace Theatre, Broadway (18 April 1994 – 5 September 1999) then Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (November 11 1999 – July 29 2007)
The musical opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on April 18, 1994 and ran there until September 5, 1999, transferring to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 11, 1999, with an official opening date of November 16, 1999. The musical closed on July 29, 2007 after 46 previews and 5,464 performances, and is Broadway’s eighth-longest running production in history (as of August 2011). The production holds the record of being the longest running production at both the Palace Theatre, where it opened, and the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where it closed its Broadway run.

Dominion Theatre, London (13 May 1997 – 11 December 1999)
The production was epic, costing £10 million. The backstage areas of the Dominion had to be expanded to accommodate the huge number (and size) of costumes. An extra multi-floor section was built onto the theatre to house costumes, wig department and laundry facilities. The section was still in use on We Will Rock You.

Documentary about the London production (40 minutes)

Documents


LSI - Beauty and the Beast (June 1997)
[1.4Mb PDF]
From Lighting & Sound International

Lighting:

  • 800 circuits
  • 250 ETC Source 4 profiles
  • 130 ADB Floods for backlighting the cyc bounce cloth
  • Generic lanterns use glass colours made by Devon Glass in the UK
  • 2.4kW Pani projector on the front of the circle used for the final battle sequence to project rain
  • 67 Vari*Lites
  • 6 DHA Light Curtains
  • 104 Rainbow 16 Scrollers
  • 40 DHA Double gobo rotators
  • 50 circuits of remote dimmers
  • ETC 1536 Obsession operates the main rig, with an Artisan running the Vari*Lites.
  • 20 x 1200W System 1200 flash lamps for lightning effects
  • 6 x SS6000 City Theatrical Dry Ice machines

Sound: 

  • As well as the usual radio mics on all actors, the Beast and Belle wore two mics (as backup)
  • Spot effects (cartoon-style sound effects (punch, whoosh etc)) were triggered by a sound effects operator, in a small room off the prompt-side wing, played from 2 x Akai S3200 samplers, with 2 x Akai DRA hard disk recorders storing longer effect backgrounds. The effects operator views the stage using a CCTV system with remote control of pan/tilt.
  • The main PA system is operated by two people at the rear of the stalls, operating a 34 way Cadac J-type desk (34 radio mics) and an F-type controlling 17 mono inputs and 19 stereo inputs.

Pyrotechnics:

  • The enchantress shoots a fireball (specially made by Le Maitre) from her wand, made from a wire frame containing flash paper.
  • The Lumiere candle effects were gas-powered and contained elaborate safety mechanisms that extinguished the flame if the performers arms dropped too low. The heavy mechanisms demanded strong forearms.

Automation:

  • The Beasts castle was built on a revolving ‘truck’ which was able to move around the stage under radio control. Lighting effects on the castle were also radio controlled. Due to the raked (sloping) stage, the truck was designed to tilt as it rotated to maintain a level position.
  • The transformation effect from Beast back to man involved a lift mechanism built into the castle truck, a little stage magic, and some spectacular lighting effects.
  • The blooming rose in a glass case was built by Howard Eaton Lighting Ltd and consisted of rose petals on tiny chains which ‘fell’ from the rose bud via electric servomotors. The rose was able to flower from a bud via a tracking mechanism which pulled it back into a sleeve to pull the petals open. Fibre-optic lighting effects were used to make the petals ‘sparkle’ as they fell.

Set Design:

  • Even close-up the set design was exquisite. Tiny details (which couldn’t even be seen by the cast on stage let alone the audience) were part of the Disney attention to detail. Belle’s father’s cottage had a couple of woodland creatures hidden amongst the foliage in his front garden.

Beauty and the Beast trailer (Broadway)