We’re not even out of lockdown and here we are looking forward to the festive season. With little or no theatre to speak of over the last 12 months, you can see why we’re excited to tell you about the big Christmas show at the Wales Millennium Centre, and when we say big, this is a BEAST of a show, but a real BEAUTY.

Yes, Disney’s most enchanted musical of all time is heading our way and by now you’ve no doubt worked out it’s the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

It’s almost unfair to call this a show, Beauty is a theatrical experience, and whether you’ve seen the original 1991 animated classic, or the live action reboot with Emma Watson, nothing will prepare you for this stunningly reimagined version of this tale as old as time.

And believe us when we say Disney aren’t kidding when they say BATB is an old time tale. It was actually in 1740, when Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villenueve wrote the first fairytale version of La Belle et la Bête. But it was some 200 years later when Walt Disney explored turning the story into an animated film like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. It wasn’t until 1991 that Beauty and the Beast landed in cinemas around the world, capturing the hearts of young and old with critical and commercial success as Walt Disney Animation’s 30th feature film.

JOSETTE DAY IN THE 1946 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST ©GETTY IMAGES

Just in case you’ve been locked away in an enchanted castle and don’t know the story, Beauty and the Beats is a true magical tale of a pretty petulant Prince, cursed to live as a terrifying monster until he finds true love, and a village girl called Belle, who draws the cold-hearted beast out of his isolation with help from some enchanted servants.

It’s basically your beast meets girl story, with great songs and spectacular settings. It’s funny, filled with magic, a little bit scary, but most of all, a proper love story.

The new theatrical version is spectacularly reimagined using the latest innovations. This beloved tale will be brought to life on stage like never before featuring all of the spellbinding music and lyrics of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

The Olivier Award-winning musical had its UK premiere at the Dominion Theatre almost 25 years ago now, while the show’s Broadway run lasted from 1994 to 2007 (the tenth-longest running production in Broadway history).

To celebrate this reimagined show, Disney Theatrical are set to reunite the original creative team that originated the 1994 Broadway production for the new tour.

For the original show, Beauty and the Beast took over 2 years to develop – most of that was time spent getting the costumes right! Wigs, makeup, costume pieces, and prosthetics all made for pretty challenging work, and lots of technical problems to overcome. As you can imagine if you’ve seen the movie, the costumes for the show are extensive, heavy, and some require great physical stamina. Lumiere’s costume took around 40 people to build it. But the honour of the most expensive costume goes to Madame Le Grande Bouche.

In 1994, the original Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast received 9 Tony Awards nominations (winning Best Costume Design) and 10 Drama Desk Award nominations. Then in in 1998, the original London production was nominated for 3 Olivier Awards (winning Best New Musical).

Beauty and the Beast premiered on Broadway in 1994 at the El Capitan Theater.  It combined music from the film with an expanded score and 6 original songs. The lavish sets and costumes brought together Rococo art and 18th century French styles.

The character of the Beast was fleshed out in the stage adaptation – showing more of his internal struggle and sensitivity.  Belle also became stronger than in the film, with a darker sense of despair.

The original cast was headlined by Susan Egan as Belle (who also voiced Megara for Disney’s Hercules in 1997) and Terrance Mann. From 1994-2007, Beauty and the Beast performed 5,461 times – the ninth longest Broadway run in history.

In 1998, an additional song was added to the score – A Change in Me.  It was written specifically for a 3 month run of the Broadway production that was to star Toni Braxon as Belle, and has been kept in the score ever since – although no English Language cast recordings have included it.

Of course, like all things Disney, BATB had it’s own world outside of stage and screen.

In Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, a new expansion to Fantasyland opened in 2012 which includes Belle’s cottage and the Enchanted Tales with Belle interactive show, the Beast’s Castle with the highly in-demand Be Our Guest restaurant where guests can feast on The Grey Stuff, and Belle’s Village which is home to Bonjour! Village Gifts and Gaston’s Tavern.  

Next time you go on holiday (remember those things) to a Disney Park, make sure you check out all things Beauty and the Beast.

The remake has a good old smattering of Wales running through it in the shape of LUKE EVANS. Luke was born in Pontypool, and brought up in Aberbargoed. Now there’s a couple of things to tell you about Luke and his love of all thing Disney. First of all he will be in the live-action Pinocchio remake, which we’re all very excited about.

Luke has also dropped a few hints that Disney has made “some very exciting decisions” for the Gaston and LeFou prequel. We don’t know any more than that, but as soon as we do, we’ll let you know.

So, before we get to the all important tour dates and tell you where, and when you can get your tickets, here are 25 fun things you may not know about Beauty.

1. The first ever recorded version of the story of Beauty and the Beast was in 1550 by Giovanni Straparola. A retelling of the story, by Madam Le Prince De Beaumont, was later published in 1756 and became the most famous version.

2. Beauty and the Beast was the work of 600 Disney animators and artists. The crew spent a total of four years drawing and painting the animations, before using then-modern computer technology to create the film.

3. In the beautiful ballroom scene, Belle and the Beast were drawn in traditional 2D animation, while the background was a 3D computer-generated environment, a technique considered revolutionary in 1991.

4. In the 1991 Beauty and the Beast, Belle is the only character in her village to wear blue to symbolise that she is different.

5. The motherly teapot had a lot of different names like Mrs. Chamomile and Mrs. Darjeeling before the filmmakers landed on simply, Mrs. Potts.

6. Contrary to popular belief, the Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast does not have a name. Throughout the entire film, no one refers to him as anything other than “the Beast” or “Master”. In fact, the Beast is literally credited as “Beast” at the end of the film.

7. Beauty and the Beast was the first animated movie ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Although it lost this award, it won both Best Music, Original Song, and Best Music, Original Score for Alan Menken.

8. The Beast is a very subtle combination of: a gorilla (brow ridge and head shape), a buffalo (hunch and eerie melancholy), a lion (the mane), a bear (the body) and a wolf (those saucy legs and tail). His tusks have been borrowed from a boar. The animators took lots of trips to the zoo! Oh, and his real name is Prince Adam.

9. When Gaston is falling at the end of the 1991 film, a tiny skull flashes in each of his eyes during a close-up of his face. This is meant to symbolise that he dies from the fall.

10. The Wardrobe wasn’t given the name of Madame de la Grande Bouche until the musical production.

11. The Featherduster had no proper name in the original film, but subsequent media she has been given different names: Babette, Fifi, and Plumette.

12. Classic literature tropes including the damsel in distress, the noble savage, and shapeshifting are key to Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast.

13. For the Chinese release, Jackie Chan was chosen to re-dub the Beast’s lines – and songs!

14. The ballad Beauty and the Beast was originally planned to be a rock and roll song.

15. Angela Lansbury was not confident in her ability to sing Beauty and the Beast.  She agreed to try one take – and nailed it, reducing the production staff to tears with her performance.

16. Chip was supposed to only have one line of dialogue. Although the movie’s cutest character got way more film time because the boy who voiced Chip, Bradley Pierce, impressed the filmmakers so much that they expanded his part. Before Chip’s character was expanded, the original “cute” character was intended to be a music box.

17. Belle is one of the few Disney Princesses in her 20s. Paige O’Hara played Belle said……

“I love the fact that she’s an independent woman. She wasn’t looking for a man and she’s highly intelligent. I also love that she’s the oldest Disney Princess. She’s the only one who they ever created to be in her 20s. All the other princesses have been teenagers. So there’s maturity about her.”

18. Also, Belle is only the second Disney princess that isn’t royal by birth. Belle doesn’t become a princess until the conclusion of the film with her marriage to the Prince. The first heroine who wasn’t born royal is Cinderella.

19. The final dance scene reused animation from Sleeping Beauty. If you watch the two side-by-side, the resemblance is undeniable.

20. Bambi’s mother makes an appearance in the movie. In the opening shot of the film she can be seen drinking from the stream in the lower right.

21. Ryan Gosling could have starred as the Beast. Ryan turned down the part to appear in La La Land opposite Emma Stone, which worked out rather well for him. Emma Watson, meanwhile, ditched La La Land to appear in Beauty and the Beast…

22. Robert Pattinson was also reported to be in the running. Rumours that the Twilight star would join Beauty and the Beast emerged once it was revealed that Bill Condon would be behind the camera (he directed Breaking Dawn: Parts I and II).

23. Three members of the live action Beauty and the Beast cast have already lent their voices to Disney animations. Josh Gad (Le Fou) voiced Olaf the snowman in Frozen. Kevin Kline (Maurice) voiced Phoebus in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Emma Thompson (Mrs Potts) voiced Queen Elinor in Brave.

JOSH GAD & LUKE EVANS

24. Ian McKellan turned down the role of Cogsworth in the 1991 animation before joining the live action version. His X-Men co-star and good friend Patrick Stewart turned down the original role, too, due to scheduling conflicts with Star Trek.

25. Belle’s town is named Villenueve after Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, the author of Beauty and the Beast

26. In the original story, the Prince was transformed into a beast when he refused to marry an evil fairy, not because he was cruel and selfish

27. In the French version, Cogsworth is known as Big Ben.

28. Belle was the first Disney princess to have brown hair.

29. Beauty and the Beast was the work of 600 Disney animators and artists. The crew spent a total of four years drawing and painting the animations, before using then-modern computer technology to create the film

30. The song “Human Again” was cut just before production started. The song was later added to the Broadway show and was recorded and animated for the 2002 re-release of the film.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST UK tour will open in Bristol in August before heading over the bridge to the Wales Millennium Centre from the 9th December to 15th January 2022. Tickets are on sale now and there will be a mad rush to get the best seats in the house. To get yours, go HERE.

Check out our other features below……

Carlton TV made a documentary about the first UK stage version at the Dominion Theatre in London. It’s obviously a little dated, and not the greatest quality, but well worth a watch. DOCUMENTARY

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