If you had somehow managed to grow up having never heard the story of Beauty and the Beast, this year’s wildly successful live-action remake surely made you familiar with the “tale as old as time”. One might wonder then, what new elements could the Disney Dream‘s anticipated on-board stage show version possibly have to add? The answer is, quite a bit actually. The Orlando Sentinel reported recently on exactly how Disney Cruise Line is making “Beauty and the Beast” a fresh new experience, and it involves some cleverly crafted sets.
The show’s storyline will be narrated by Belle’s father Maurice, who is using a music box to share his tale with the audience. As the story changes scenes Maurice turns his box, the entire musical taking place within the walls of the melodic device. This idea not only helps create a unique atmosphere for the performance, but also gave the creative team some room to play. Director/Choreographer Connor Gallagher said of the box’s creation, “In this concept of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ what if we created this environment that was totally malleable? It opens up the possibility for us to do absolutely anything.”
Not only will the box serve as a narrative device but it will also influence the design of the sets, with things moving in a manner that reinforces the feeling of being inside the musical contraption. In show writer Sarah Wordsworth’s words, “As he’s telling the story of Belle and the Beast, it comes to life before you and he opens this music box and the entire show plays out. You start to see spinning doorways, characters that move in circles, things that remind you of winding up a music box.”
It is not in Disney’s style to limit themselves to just classical sets, however, and the musical will rely not only on physical objects but projections as well. Speaking on the subject, scenic designer Jason Sherwood said, “From the get-go we knew that we wanted to pair kind of physical actual elements, things that people were touching and moving around with a projected element so that it feels as though our characters are really traveling to different places.”
“We’re really taking a giant leap forward with video technology,” production designer Aaron Rhyne said. “It all becomes this cohesive blend between the choreography, the movement, the staging, the actors, the set and the video so it all appears like one move together.” Rhyne said LED walls play a role in the design.
If you are wondering how the story’s cast of magically animated objects will be handled, puppetry is your answer.
The music for the show will be comprised of songs from both the original animated feature and the new live-action blockbuster. Some numbers will be grandiose “Broadway-style” songs (“Be Our Guest”, “Gaston”, etc.), while others will merely play as background instrumentals to reinforce the music box concept.
The show will be hosted in the Walt Disney Theater, which holds up to 1,340 guests.
Disney expects the unique aspects of the show will make this a must-see production. Executive creative director with Walt Disney Imagineering, Wendy Anderson, says, “What makes our interpretation of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on the Disney Dream so special is that you’re not going to see this play anywhere else in the world.”
Source: The Orlando Sentinel
Images: The Orlando Sentinel/Disney Cruise Line