The tale as old as time comes to life one night only on Thursday to kick off the Grand Opera House’s Broadway Series this fall.
This final tour of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” reunites its original creators: director Roth Roth, choreographer Matt West, and costume designer Ann Hould-Ward, who earned a Tony Award for her work on “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Even with all the talent, the story of the show is why it’s a hit,” said Roth, who earned a Tony Award nomination for his directing debut with the show at age 29.
The traditional fairytale originated in 18th century France. It’s the story of beautiful and bookish Belle, whose inventor father is taken captive by the Beast, himself an enchanted prince imprisoned in his monstrous form and hidden castle. Belle offers herself in her father’s place and discovers a litany of fantastic characters.
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The production features the Academy Award-winning score by Alan Menken, including “Be Our Guest,” and a few songs that weren’t on the original animated feature, such as “Human Again.”
The love story has been performed to more than 35 million people worldwide in 21 countries since its 1994 debut at the Palace Theatre in New York. “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” played on Broadway for 13 years, making it the eighth-longest running musical in Broadway history.
“To watch the parents with their children going to theater -- sometimes for the first time -- and kind of getting lost in the story and laughing, that’s a very, very satisfying feeling for me,” Roth said.
Baritone Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek, who plays antagonist Gaston in his first Broadway tour, says his favorite scene takes place in a tavern after Belle has rejected his character’s advances.
“It’s a rousing, rollicking number with beer mugs and dancing,” Smith-Kotlarek said.
He says he never saw the boneheaded lout Gaston as a villain.
“We’ve all felt unlovable at some point, or have felt the pain of rejection,” Smith-Kotlarek said. “This musical teaches us a better way to react to that rejection and to connect with people in a real way. I think that is the take away -- overcoming the feeling of being an outsider.”
Roseann Swiergosz, executive director of the Grand Opera House, surveyed last year’s theater crowd and says they were eager to catch the production before it stopped touring. She says putting on a production this size takes more than 50 people working nearly 24 hours to unload, assemble and reload four semi-trailers of costumes and sets.
“When you look at tour and all the cities on the tour, it’s an amazing feat to have all this happen,” Swiergosz said. “Timing is amazing. Everything is precise, and everyone has to know what they are doing in order to make it work.”
Smith-Kotlarek says the final result is magic.
“We take people into the world of the play,” Smith-Kotlarek said. “They are with you, and you can hear a pin drop during some of the silent parts, and they laugh during some of the funny parts. There’s a kind energy in the room when you take people to another place, away from their cares of daily life.”
“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8
Where: Grand Opera House, 651 Mulberry St.
Information: www.thegrandmacon.com, 478-301-5470