Beauty and the Beast is the musical that started it all. Well, it started it all for Disney as it was the mouse ears’ first foray into the world of musical theatre. It all started when theater critic extraordinaire, Frank Rich of the New York Times, said Beauty and the Beast (the film) was 1991’s best musical (it was not a good year for the genre, after all The Will Rogers Follies won the Tony Award for Best Musical). Rich’s article got the bigwigs at Disney thinking seriously about bringing their award-winning cartoon to the stage. They eventually collaborated with the renowned Theatre Under the Stars to make Beauty and the Beast the musical a reality.
The musical premiered in Houston, Texas in late 1993. It made its way to Broadway in April of the following year. Beauty and The Beast was honored with nine Tony Award nominations (it won just one for Best Costume Design). The production ran until 2007 or 5,461 performances. It’s Broadway’s eighth longest running production and the second longest-running Disney production behind The Lion King. The musical has raked in more than $1.4 billion as it has played in 13 countries and more than 100 cities. It’s hard to believe but the stage musical is as successful, if not more so, then its cinematic counterpart.
Beauty and The Beast the musical follows the same story as the movie although there are several minor differences—most are the result of adapting it to the stage. One of the biggest differences is that The Beasts’ servants haven’t fully changed into household objects like they did in the movie. Instead, they are slowly changing thus making it easier to produce for the stage. The same songs are used in the musical as were used in the film (music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman and Tim Rice) as well as an additional seven new songs. “Human Again” was cut from the film, reworked into the musical, and then added to a special DVD edition that was released in 2002.