News Column

Original design team re-imagines 'Beauty'

October 25, 2013


Oct. 25--ST. LOUIS -- Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" often is the first musical theater production a child sees, and when it opens at the Fox, another treat will be in store with Kids Night.

The Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation presents its annual Kids Night at the Fox on Friday, Nov. 1. A free child's ticket will be offered with the purchase of every adult ticket at the Fox Theatre Box Office while supplies last. The evening will include pre-show activities in the Fox Theatre lobby. The musical runs from Nov. 1 through 3.

"It's spread around the cast to keep in mind anytime we do a show, it could be someone's first time to see a show, or it could be their last time to see a show, so we like to think it's a special experience, no matter what, but especially for kids," said Hassan Nazari-Robati, who plays Lumiere, a character who becomes a candle after a spell is cast over him. "Whether they've seen the cartoon or not, they'll see in it the joy they see in a cartoon. We keep it as lively as possible."

Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" features the animated film's Academy Award-winning score with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, with additional songs with music by Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice.

The original creators of the Broadway production are together again for this new touring production.

"It has been wonderful to bring the entire original design team back together to work on this production," director Rob Roth said. "As a director, it is rare to have the opportunity to revisit your work 15 years later."

Compared to the original Broadway production, this one is a bit scaled down.

"Ours is a little more storybook and conceptual in that way, leaving more to the imagination, seeing the castle as they imagine it," Nazari-Robati said. "It's a fun, artistic re-imagine; for those who saw it on Broadway, it's a different show."

The theme of "Beauty and the Beast" is about seeing past the exterior into the heart of someone, and this is reflected in the design for the show, which is about transparency and layers, seeing past one thing and into another, Roth said.

Nazari-Robati himself sees past the exterior of a candle to bring light and life to personify Lumiere.

"It's definitely not something you ever expect to do, but it has been a blessing playing this part," Nazari-Robati said. "I grew up with the movie, and everyone has such a fun time watching Lumiere; it's kind of a childhood dream to play someone so iconic and loved. It can be daunting, like when I first started, but Lumiere has truly a joy that is effervescent."

Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who really is a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is limited, and if the Beast does not learn his lesson in time, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" has become an international sensation that has played to more than 35 million people worldwide in 21 countries.

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(c)2013 The Telegraph (Alton, Ill.)

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