‘Beauty and the Beast’ arrives at the Peace Center
December 18, 2014
Paul Hyde, [email protected] 4:44 p.m. EST December 16, 2014
Belle is not your typical Disney princess.
That’s why so many people love the beauty in “Beauty and the Beast.”
“I would definitely say that she has a little more feistiness to her,” said Jillian Butterfield, who’s playing Belle in the national tour of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”
“She’s strong and independent, willing to do anything she needs to do for her Dad,” Butterfield said. “It’s really a blast to play this character. I couldn’t be happier.”
“Beauty and the Beast” opens Tuesday at the Peace Center for eight performances through Sunday.
The Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of a prince who is transformed into a hideous beast as punishment for his cruel and selfish ways. In order to become human again, the Beast must earn Belle's love before it’s too late.
“Beauty” ran on Broadway for 5,461 performances between 1994 and 2007, becoming Broadway's eighth longest-running production in history.
The show’s score by Alan Menken includes familiar ballads such as “Beauty and the Beast” as well as soaring numbers like “If I Can’t Love Her” and big ensemble showstoppers such as “Be Our Guest.”
The stage musical is based on the 1991 animated film of the same name. Menken wrote seven new songs for the musical.
“The show is about looking past someone’s exterior to see into their soul,” said director Rob Roth, who earned a Tony nomination for the 1994 original Broadway production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
“The story appeals to all generations,” Roth said. “Mom and Dad love it and kids love it, too. The story is emotional and funny. Watching audiences watch the show, all these years later, is still very emotional for me.”
The Beast is an outcast but Belle is also shunned, Butterfield said.
“The townspeople look at her and think she’s odd,” Butterfield said, speaking by phone in between tour stops in California. “She’s so wrapped up in her books and her fantasy world and she’s a big dreamer. I think that’s a wonderful thing.”
Everyone can relate to the characters, Roth said.
“Everybody has felt like the Beast at one time in their life, like they didn’t fit in or they were the outsider, not handsome or pretty enough,” Roth said. “It’s a universal story.”
The tight-knit cast of more than two dozen actors in the production will be spending their Christmas in Greenville.
“It’s my first time being away from my family for Christmas but that’s OK because our company is such a family,” Butterfield said. “We’re thinking of things to do for Christmas to make it more homey. We all really like each other a lot.”
This touring production features new set designs that are no less lavish than the Broadway original, Roth said.
“We think this one is much more beautiful than the Broadway version,” Roth said.
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