Disney’s Olivier Award-winning stage musical Beauty and the Beast is to be re-imagined and re-designed in a completely new production staged by the original award-winning creative team, and will open a UK and Ireland tour in May 2021.
Performances will begin at Curve, Leicester on 25 May 2021, with other engagements also announced today in Dublin, Bristol, Liverpool and Edinburgh.
Rob Roth, a Tony-nominee for the original production, will again direct, leading a team that includes composer Alan Menken, lyricist Tim Rice, bookwriter Linda Woolverton, choreographer Matt West, scenic designer Stan Meyer, costume designer Ann Hould-Ward and lighting designer Natasha Katz. The team collectively received five Tony® nominations and a win for Hould-Ward’s costume design, when Disney first debuted Beauty and the Beast on Broadway 26 years ago.
The structure and tone of the story and score – as conceived for the 1991 film by its executive producer and lyricist Howard Ashman with a continued evolution for the Broadway adaptation three years later – made Disney history. Only once before – in Menken and Ashman’s previous film musical The Little Mermaid – had a Disney film been structured like a stage musical where the songs are integral to plot and characterisation rather than only ornamental or digressions. This Menken/Ashman innovation is credited with the 1990’s Disney animation renaissance that went on to create such film classics as Aladdin, The Lion King and Hunchback of Notre Dame and helped re-introduce the book musical form to popular culture.
This new Beauty, while retaining the lush period sound of the Oscar-winning and Tony-nominated score – which brought classics including ‘Be Our Guest’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’, as well as ‘Change in Me’, added to the musical production in 1998 and retained thereafter – will be heard afresh with new dance arrangements by David Chase, allowing original choreographer Matt West to re-visit his work. Longtime Menken collaborators Michael Kosarin and Danny Troob are musical supervisor/vocal arranger and orchestrator, respectively.
Completing the design team, Tony-winner John Shivers is sound designer, Darryl Maloney is the video and projections designer, and David H. Lawrence is hair designer. Jim Steinmeyer is the illusions designer, as he was on the original 1994 production. Casting for the production, by Pippa Ailion Casting, will be announced at a later date.
The original West End production of Beauty and the Beast opened at the Dominion Theatre in April 1997, playing over 1,100 performances to more than two million people. It won the 1998 Olivier Award for Best Musical and enjoyed a hugely successful UK and Ireland tour in 2001.
Based on the 1991 film – the first animated feature ever nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture – Beauty and the Beast opened on Broadway in April 1994 and garnered nine Tony nominations and one win. It played for more than 13 years on Broadway, closing in 2007. It remains to this day – 26 years after it opened – among the top 10 longest-running shows in Broadway history. The live-action retelling of the animated classic quickly became the highest-grossing live action film musical of all time in 2017, a record only beaten by The Lion King live-action release in 2019.
Alan Menken said:
“Beauty and the Beast is a testament to the genius of my late friend and collaborator Howard Ashman, but the show’s richness comes from the combination of Howard’s style and that of the brilliant Tim Rice, with whom I expanded the score to give voice to the Beast. It’s clear that audiences the world over want to return to the world of Beauty, which continues to amaze and humble those of us who created it. As the show returns to the UK, I cannot wait to see how Rob Roth and this glorious creative team bring the whole universe of Beauty and the Beast to life once again.”
Tim Rice commented: “Beauty and the Beast is a story and a show which resonates through generations, and it was a great pleasure to work with Alan to expand the score he and the brilliant Howard Ashman first created. I am thrilled that there will be a brand new production and that the newest theatrical wizardry will bring another layer of magic to the tale. It is great that the UK will host the premiere of the new production, as this country has always enjoyed a special affinity with the show.”
Rob Roth commented: “I am so excited to premiere this new production of Beauty in the UK. The entire original creative team has reassembled, and we’ve reimagined the visual aspects of the show completely, making full use of all the newest technologies in stage craft, lighting and costume construction. Many of these elements hadn’t been invented when we first developed the show. So we are creating something brand new from this beloved “tale as old as time”. I speak for the whole team when I say fortunate we all feel to be given the opportunity to reimagine the show for the 21st century.