In 1991, the animated feature Beauty and the Beast became the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Prompted by the unprecedented success of the film, and by critics who likened the music to a Broadway score, Disney executives began to develop a stage version with an eye toward the Great White Way, where it would capture the heart of every child in the audience. Disney’s well-deserved reputation for quality family entertainment is what prompted BRAVO@KAT to present a spectacular double cast of talent for six shows in late January at Randolph Road Theatre.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is based on La Belle et La Bete, a traditional French fairy tale, written in 1757 by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. In 1946, French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau directed the French romantic fantasy film which popularized the story for contemporary society. Executive Producer, Laurie Levy Issembert, whose husband, Gerard is Parisian-born, is doing her best to make sure the French characters receive the proper pronunciation of their names and it makes for some fun rehearsal banter when the correct French sometimes don’t rhyme with the lyrics of American writers Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. The music of award-winning composer Howard Ashman needs no safeguarding. Most everyone already knows the score by heart!
The cast is led by two amazing Beasts – Zachary Conneen,15, jetting between Montgomery County and Los Angeles to shoot new episodes of Modern Family where he is a guest star and Ethan Miller, who will literally step from one stage to another when Signature Theatre’s production of Gypsy closes the day before Beauty and the Beast loads into the Randolph Road Theatre. Both Conneen and Miller are veterans of BRAVO@KAT and they play opposite two Belles that are literally – the “long and the short” of it. Marjorie Long is a veteran of at least 10 shows with Producer Issembert and Leah Fox is a welcome newcomer whose diminutive stature packs a punch you will not believe!
With a cast of 51 young artists, featuring students in grades 3-9 from all over the metropolitan area, award-winning Director/Choreographer Darnell Morris and Music Director Mayumi Baker Griffie have crafted a show whose message resonates with the creative sentimentality of the youthful cast. And as always, BRAVO@KAT reaches out to include ingénues in grades 1 and 2 who are just “breaking into the business.” They will be the adorable teacups wishing you to “Be Our Guest” at the cold, late January performances when they will warm your heart and leave you bubbling with excitement.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. will be performed at Randolph Road Theater – 4010 Randolph Road Theatre, Silver Spring, MD 20902
Friday, January 31 at 7:30 pm.
Saturday, February 1 at 1:30 pm, 4:00 pm and 7:30 pm.
Sunday, February 2 at 1:30 pm (ASL interpreted show), and 4:00 pm.
Tickets are 18 pre-sale at www.katonline.org or $20 at the door.
The Music Man JR. (The ‘Music’ Cast’) at Bravo@KAT at Olney Theatre Center by Amanda Gunther.
Fiddler on the Roof JR at BRAVO@KAT by Eric Denver.