THE BEAST IS COMING!!
Posted by: wbtpress on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 4:20:00 pm
The first version of Beauty and the Beast was written in 1740 by Madame Gabrielle de Villeneuve. Her audience was not children, but her court and salon friends who enjoyed sharing stories for entertainment. Scholars suppose that Villeneuve derived her story from traditional oral tales.
In 1991, Walt Disney Feature Animation produced a musical animated film adaptation of Beauty And The Beast, with a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, and songs by Alan Menken & Howard Ashman. It won Oscars for Best Song and Best Original Score, and is the only animated film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Considered by many to be one of Disney's finest films, “Beauty and the Beast” combined the Disney standards of strong story and music with some of the very best character animation and production ever seen in animated film.
When Disney CEO Michael Eisner saw Paige O'Hara (Belle) and Jerry Orbach (Lumiere) perform musical highlights from the film version of Beauty and the Beast as part of an awards presentation in New York City, he knew that audiences would embrace a live stage version of the film.
Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken wrote the music for both the original film as well as new songs added to the stage production. Howard Ashman provided the lyrics for the film, and Tim Rice took over as lyricist of the Broadway production as a result of Ashman's death of AIDS in 1991.
The show debuted on Broadway in 1994, three years after the release of the movie. It is the sixth longest running show in Broadway history, and played 5,464 performances between 1994 and 2007. The production holds the record of being the longest running production at both, the Palace Theatre, where it opened, and the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where it closed its Broadway run. The show received 9 TONY Award nominations including Best Musical.